Hampden County inmates making masks, gowns for health care workers

Coronavirus Local Impact

LUDLOW, Mass (WWLP) – Local inmates are making protective masks and gowns for local health care workers and first responders in need.

Many hospitals and first responders are lacking the personal protectice equipment they need to help protect themselves and others against the COVID-19 virus, so anyone who has the resources is trying to help.

According to Hampden County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Robert Rizzuto, the jail’s York Street Industries Program has begun manufacuring protective masks and gowns.

Unlike usual disposable PPE, these items are made with the durability to be washed to medical disinfectant standards and reused.

“I feel very thankful and grateful,” an inmate named Alex said. “You know, to be a part of this, and to be able to help out even under the circumstances that I find myself in I still can reach out and help those people that are in need and I’m very thankful and grateful for that.”

The department has made over 1,000 masks and gowns with production running in two shifts for a total 16 hours a day at both the Hampden County Jail and the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee.

Rizzuto said so far, the department has helped the Caring Health Center, the Ludlow Fire Department, and Worcester County, Franklin County and Barnstable County.

“I’m very proud of the work being done by the inmates and the prison industry,” Sheriff Nick Cocchi said. “They’ve answered a call. They’re answering a call for ourselves here at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and also for agencies in the community.”

The jail will continue to make this equipment until the pandemic passes and the department will modify its offerings if the needs change. Inmates are paid a stipend for their work, and choose to be a part of the working program.

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