Coronavirus: Montreal bow company making masks to protect patients at Lakeshore hospital

What do a team of radiology doctors and a bow company have in common?

It turns out, the wellbeing of patients at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Montreal’s West Island.

West Island resident Sophia Johnson is the owner of a handmade bow shop, B&B Bowtique.

Johnson makes bows out of her home in Dorion in her spare time, but with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, “obviously bows are not a hot commodity right now,” Johnson told Global News.

So she changed gears and started sewing face masks with the fabric she had purchased for her bow business instead.

“A lot of doctors believe it’s better than nothing, so I started making them for my friends,” she said.

Her friends are police officers working across the city, but they are also her colleagues.

Johnson is not only a talented tailor but a police officer, currently on maternity leave from station 3 in Pierrefonds.

After seeing her work online, a group of five doctors working in the radiology department at the hospital and called Johnson to order 120 masks.

“The reason for that is not to protect ourselves,” said Dr. Khashayar Rafat Zand, the site chief at the department of radiology at Lakeshore General Hospital. “We still do ultrasounds on a lot of pregnant women and if one of our technologists were to be a virus carrier, we didn’t want to become a source of infection.”

Rafat Zand wants to emphasize the purchase was not made out of lack of protective material in the hospital, but out of solidarity with colleagues dealing directly with infected patients.

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“We did not want to use the hospital supply,” Rafat Zand said.

Johnson says she worked 16 hours a day for three days straight to fulfill the order.

“I sent them the most vibrant colours I had. I said: ‘let’s send a little light to this darkness,’” Johnson told Global News.

Herself and a group of her friends got together to donate a few dozen extra masks.

“I delivered both my babies there. I was closely followed by them when I was pregnant. It was meant to be. I have a huge place for them in my heart,” Johnson said.

“When the doctors sent me the picture of the team, I was crying.”

 

But while the hospital’s staff thanked her, Johnson said she also received hate messages online.

People, she says, criticized the fact that she donated her time but doctors paid for the materials.

Speaking on behalf of the doctors, Rafat Zand says the money wasn’t a problem. “If you have time to criticize, spend it making a mask. We have no problem paying for masks, especially during these times when the economy is so fragile, she doesn’t have to pay out of pocket, ” Dr. Rafat Zand argued.

“This epidemic has brought the best and worst of people. I think Sophia is one of the best of us.”

As for Johnson, she says she will continue making masks for as long as the lockdown lasts, while also juggling her mother-of-two duties, no matter the criticism.

“I really want to feel like I’m doing something useful,” she said.

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