Nurses help the homeless by sewing mats from surgical wraps

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FENTON Mo. – Operating room nurses and staff members at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton are giving back to their community in a unique way.

"We all need help," said Lesley Nikirk, director of Surgical Services.

The group meets at the hospital once a month to sew mats for the homeless.

"It will bring them comfort," said Tiffani Murphy, an OR Analytics Coordinator.

The team doesn't buy material from a fabric store. They make the mats out of blue wrap used to sterilize surgical instruments surgeons use during surgery.

"The wraps are collected before the patient enters the room or before the procedure ever occurs, so they are completely clean the whole time," said team leader Jared Faurot.

Most of the seamstress—uh, nurses—didn’t know how to thread a needle let alone sew before they got involved in the project.

"I taught myself," said Katie Gorman, a Resource OR Nurse.

The wraps are then donated to local food pantries like Circle of Concern.

"Just recently we had a family that was experiencing homelessness. We were able to help with a tent and some of these wonderful pads to help protect them from the cold ground," said Cyndi Miller, Circle of Concern Executive Director.

St. Clare used to throw away thousands of blue wraps which ended up in landfills, but not anymore.

"We diverted 250 pounds of waste from away from the landfill," said Jessica Eberhardt, OR Charge Nurse. The material, which is not bio-degradable, is now being recycled for a good cause.

"It's been great knowing that we're helping people in our own community," Nikirk said.


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