Debbie Morton/Mercyhusrt University

     Baldwin Residence Hall at Mercyhurst University may not be occupied by students, but its washers and dryers will be operating at full force Wednesday as the Erie County Department of Health (ECDH) and its volunteers wash and dry nearly 5,000 face masks.

Chelsea Bates, Erie County Department of Health
coordinator is flanked by volunteers
from the Erie Regional Medical Reserve Corps
(l-r) Mike
Giannamore and Joe Theiss.
Contributed photo

     As part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the ECDH ordered 4,800 masks and took receipt of dozens more donated by ServErie, Mask-Erie, and Grace Church. Mercyhurst, which has worked collaboratively with the health department on its own COVID-19 practices and procedures, volunteered its facilities to help prepare the masks for public distribution.  

     “The Erie County Department of Health has been a great partner during this pandemic and we are eager for an opportunity to lend our support,” said Dr. Laura Zirkle, vice president for student life. “Further, with so many of our own students and alumni in the medical community, we want to do our part to support them as well.”  

     In addition to laundering the masks, volunteers will bag them with informational inserts and prepare for distribution, said Chelsea Bates, ECDH public health preparedness coordinator. She said the health department will identify the most at-risk communities for distribution and then expand efforts from there.  

     Bates and several health department colleagues along with volunteers from the Erie Regional Medical Reserve Corps will be on hand to prepare the masks.  

“The work that ECDH is doing in Erie County during the current pandemic is invaluable,” said Dr. Judy Smith, executive director of health and wellness at Mercyhurst.Our organization, like many others, have benefited greatly from their advice, guidance, and knowledge.  Their staff members are working non-stop to the benefit of this community.  We are delighted to be able provide a little help back.”