Irmo’s Sleep Number plant repairing N95 masks for local hospital use
Sleep Number's manufacturing plant in Irmo is joining the fight against COVID-19, and doing what they can to help health care workers.
Irmo, S.C. (WOLO) — Sleep Number’s manufacturing plant in Irmo is joining the fight against COVID-19, and doing what they can to help health care workers.
“Think outside the box. This is what we did here, just heard about a need and figured out how can we partner together to fill that need,” said Hunter Mottel, Director of Manufacturing at the Irmo plant.
Sleep Number is assisting the South Carolina Hospital Association by repairing the elastic on new N95 masks.
“We saw an opportunity where we have a skill set for sewing and heard about a need to rework and repair some of the N95 surgical-style masks, and so that’s what we’re able to do to help out, is use some available capacity to repair and replace some of the straps,” said Mottel.
Hospitals found almost 200,000 unused N95 masks that couldn’t be worn because of the elastic.
“We are in the process of repairing roughly 190,000 masks here in the Columbia area. We’re early in on that number right now; we just finished up nearly 3,000 this past Friday and we’re continuing to get faster and faster each day,” said Mottel.
So instead of sewing mattresses, sewing machines are being put to work to make the masks useable.
“What you’re seeing is the elastic has already been removed, and they’re sewing in new elastic to repair the mask and make the mask actually wearable,” said Mottel.
Employees said they’re glad to help in any way that they can.
“Two weeks ago you would think, okay how can we at Sleep Number help in a crisis such as this? And here we are, right. So everybody wants a chance to help in various ways. We just have a unique opportunity to help in this way, so the team’s super excited about helping,” said Mottel. “Right now, what’s even more important is the health and wellness of our frontline health care workers. And so that’s really what it’s about right now, just pivoting and still improving lives it’s just right now maybe more saving lives than anything else.”