April 8, 2020

Sonja Thomson

Making Masks Can Make a Difference

Image of Sonja Thomson
Sonja Thomson, an instructional designer at SUNY Empire, is sewing masks for distribution to medical professionals and the general public.

The nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired many do-it-yourselfers to take matters into their own hands. 

Sonja Thomson, an instructional designer at SUNY Empire, is one of them. 

Thomson has been hard at work sewing homemade masks for her community. She says that even though the CDC recommends that homemade masks should be used as a “last resort” for healthcare workers lacking protection, she is hoping to make a difference by distributing a “last line of defense” should the need arise. 

Thomson’s mask is based on a pattern put forward by Deaconess Hospital, which balances filtering capabilities and breathability. Her friend, Seana Mosher, a physician assistant, took the mask prototype to Saratoga Hospital for health professionals to examine. They made suggestions for improving the mask to get a tighter fit over the nose and under the chin. 

Based on this valuable feedback, Thomson tweaked the pattern and uses social media to distribute it so others can make masks for use by medical professionals and the general public. And now that the government has asked the general public to wear masks, people need them sooner than later. 

“I’d like to think I’ve contributed most by using social media to inspire my community to sew homemade masks. One person alone cannot fulfill the vast need,” Thomson says. 

Thomson also sews masks for local children, and even makes matching masks for their dolls and stuffed animals as a way to encourage children to embrace the masks. 

“To me, it feels like such a small contribution,” Thomson says, “but it’s something I can do to help the superheroes on the front line who bravely fight this invisible enemy.” 

Saratoga Hospital is accepting homemade masks off-site at 30 Gick Road Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.