Calhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Industries and Fabric Sources International (FSI) have combined resources to address urgent medical supply needs at Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton and Emory Healthcare in Atlanta during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Using fabric provided by FSI, Mohawk Home’s Dalton-based rug manufacturing facility is providing industrial sewing equipment for their skilled employees to produce vitally needed medical protective gear for doctors, nurses and other care providers.
“During the developing COVID-19 crisis, we came together as a team to look at our current capabilities and see if there was any way that we could help the medical groups in our communities,” said Bart Hill, senior vice president, product development and operations. “When the team at FSI reached out to Hamilton Medical Center to learn about their needs, they found out that Hamilton was in short supply of medical gowns worn by care providers. That’s when FSI asked us if we could combine our resources and skills to produce these items.”
Healthcare providers wear these gowns in non-surgical settings to prevent their clothing from being contaminated by patient body fluids. The gowns are worn when a patient’s symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases and contact precautions must be taken.
The Mohawk Home team quickly developed a process for cutting the fabric pattern and sewing together the gown components. “I’m really proud to work for a company like Mohawk that immediately wanted to help out the community,” said Earl Nichols, Mohawk Home senior engineer. “In a matter of two days, we were able to engineer, create and sort out the supply chain to manufacture these much-needed supplies for the hospitals. We just wanted to help in any way we could.”
Production has now expanded over the past two weeks from a handful of gowns to 1,200 per day, with plans to continue speeding up the process. “I’m so happy that we’re able to help our doctors and nurses,” said Wanda Rowe, lead sample rug sewing machine operator. “I think we sometimes take for granted that the supplies we need to do our jobs will always be there. The first gown was very tedious to put together, but when the rest of the gown sewing team worked together to each do their part, things came together like clockwork.”
About 1,000 of these medical gowns are being donated to Hamilton Medical Center, and the groups have also begun supplying gowns to Emory’s hospital system.
As much as possible, the teams plan to expand production to meet the needs of other area hospitals facing supply shortages. The group has also begun the process of creating plastic face shields, another item needed by healthcare providers for protection when they treat patients. The face shield design has been approved by the hospitals, and the group is refining its manufacturing process to determine its capacity.
Along with manufacturing surgical gowns and plastic face shields, the Mohawk team is also working to identify sources for certified, protective face masks for AdventHealth to help ensure that the providers in their Calhoun and Chatsworth, Ga. hospitals have the protective gear they need to keep themselves and others safe. Mohawk is offering their logistical and supply chain resources and expertise to help with the sourcing of these items.
“Our team here has been so enthusiastic and helpful with taking on this challenge of learning to manufacture different items in such a short amount of time,” Hill said. “Everyone has the attitude that we’re all in this together with our teams and our community, and they want to do whatever they can to help. We’re very proud of these team members and their eagerness to use their skills to support our medical professionals.”