By Reginald Tucker
Floor Covering News has joined the call to help keep health care workers safe by donating personal protective equipment to several local hospitals on Long Island. The publication worked in conjunction with Houston-based upstart Cutified to supply scores of specially designed masks and head coverings for nursing staff at North Shore University Hospital and Northwell Long Island Jewish Medical Center in N.Y.
The partnership developed when FCNews associate publisher Dustin Aaronson had learned from several healthcare professionals he knows personally that traditional face masks caused discomfort from routine wear. Specifically, nurses and doctors complained the straps constantly pulled on their ears, causing skin irritation. “They mentioned a new concept based on mask sets that have buttons on the caps, so the mask attaches directly to the cap, alleviating the discomfort of the strap around ears,” Aaronson recalled. “So, I contacted a company called Cutified, which stepped up to the plate and helped us deliver 200 mask and cap sets to two local hospitals.”
Innovative masks tout form and function
Not only are these new cap and mask sets more comfortable for healthcare workers—many of whom are working multiple shifts as they treat both COVID-19 patients as well as others in need of round-the-clock medical care—but they are also more visually appealing. Instead of the typical medical and surgical face masks, Cutified employs creative, colorful patterns and fabrics.
“Imagine being greeted with someone with Bambi, Wonder Woman, dogs and cats instead of just a plain colored cap,” Aaronson said. “These are more welcoming and appealing to patients.”
Indeed, that was one of the motivating factors behind the development of the cap and masks, according to Tetyana Newkirk, customer service manager for Cutified. “I saw the masks that were out there, and I thought nurses need something better than this,” she told FCNews. “Why not make something pretty? Plus, it puts the nurses in a better mood and the patients feel better as well.”
Beyond form, the stylish cap and masks also serve an important function—added protection for the nurses and doctors. “We found the traditional masks don’t cover enough of the head—what kind of protection is this?” Newkirk asked.
An idea bloomed into a business
Newkirk, who, ironically, plans to enroll in a nursing program in the fall, looked back on the creation of Cutified. Like so many upstart businesses, she said it started out of the blue. “My friend, who is a nurse, asked me to make a mask for her,” she recalled. “Then her friend saw it and liked it, and so on. So, I decided to make a Facebook page to promote it.”
It was Aaronson’s Internet search that landed him on Cutified’s Facebook page when he was searching for solutions for his friends and neighbors working in the healthcare profession. When he initially reached out to Newkirk to inquire about a large order, she first thought it was a prank. “When Dustin told me he wanted all those masks, I thought he was joking!” she said. “My jaw dropped.”
As word continues to spread, so do the orders for Cutified. And it’s not just masks and caps for healthcare applications. Newkirk said the protective wear is appropriate for chefs, bakers, food workers, housekeepers, retailers and gardeners—or just a lazy hair day. “It has been non-stop,” Newkirk said. “My mother is behind the sewing machine, while I pick the patterns and cut them. It has been really exciting.”
(FCNews encourages other organizations and individuals to reach out and see what they can do to support front-line workers in their communities. If you would like to place an order for masks for your medical teams, visit Facebook at @cutified4RNwithlove, or call Tetyana Newkirk directly at 832.689.1441.)