OTTAWA -- The need for personal protective equipment gowns at Ottawa Inner City Health has been answered by a dedicated group of volunteers.   

The goal of 2,500 gowns for staff has almost been met.

“We literally started this pandemic with zero PPE,” explains Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health.

“Our staff, and all of the shelter staff, and all of the housing staff that we work with; everybody’s using PPE while they’re at work - so, we go through more than a thousand gowns a day.”

The gowns are needed in Ottawa’s homeless shelters, to be used by front-line workers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Michael and Leonar Ward answered the call, and assembled a group of volunteers to sew the gowns for Ottawa Inner City Health.

“This was a need that they had, an urgent one and they didn’t have the funding for… Even though it was a little daunting at first, it seemed to us like something that the Ottawa community could respond to,” said Michael Ward.

Two-hundred-and-fifty sewers responded to the call, volunteering their time with an ambitious goal.

“We’re actually approaching our goal of delivering 2,500 gowns to Ottawa Inner City Health. We’ve delivered about a thousand, we have about another thousand that are being made now,” says Ward.

They’re being made by hard working volunteers like Kathryn Elliot.

“Well, I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands.”

So she put those hands to use, personally making 31 gowns for staff.

“I thought it was something I could do that was positive.”

Something positive, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst Ottawa’s vulnerable population.

“No one can escape the reality that we are living in the pandemic, however for the homeless people, it’s more difficult,” explains Leonar Ward.

The gowns are re-usable, sewn using purchased fabric and donated bed sheets,

Muckle is excited for the new gowns.

“Everybody does a happy dance around the office when we get more gowns. It’s so strange that recycled bed sheets would make us as happy as they do, but they really do.”