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Local quilter shifting focus during COVID-19 pandemic

Phyllis Winfield with the medical gowns she’s now making due to a general shortage of gear. [Sean Heeger]

Phyllis Winfield, owner of St. Jacobs Quilt Company Ltd. (SJQC), has taken on a new task to aid in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than three weeks ago, Winfield started making personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals and other frontline care workers after her sister, Dr. Doris Winfield with University Downs Family Practice, reached out and told her about a lack of equipment she and her colleagues were facing.

It didn’t take much prompting and she got to work, giving the business she started only six months ago a new path during this crisis.

“They had concerns about the timing of when public health would be getting them what they needed and they were having trouble buying it online,” said Winfield. “So I designed a gown and we found water-resistant fabric and then we proceeded to make them for her office. Then word got out in her physicians’ group that I had done this for her, so then they began reaching out to me.”

Since word got out about her new project, she’s been fielding orders daily for hospitals, long-term homes and other groups as far as North York and Collingwood, who lack the PPE needed to combat COVID-19.

To date, she has shipped out more than 500 gowns and kits to those who need them most.

In addition to making the gowns which she sends out fully sewn together, Winfield is also creating gown kits which can be put together by those with the necessary skills.

She says this wouldn’t be possible without the help of her suppliers who have told her they’re willing to do anything to help her with the work she’s doing.

“They have said … ‘I just want you to know that we’ve got your back in this,’ so he (the supplier) said if you need more (materials) let me know and they’ll get it on a truck,” said Winfield.

During this time of crisis, Winfield is one of many business owners who have taken their work to another level by creating items which can help during the pandemic. She misses the shop she started after leaving her previous career as a chartered professional, but knows the work she’s doing now could help save many of lives.

Everybody has skill sets and talents, so do what you can to help during this very difficult time, suggested Winfield.

While she has had to put her passion for quilt making on hold for the time being, she says anyone who does want a quilt can contact her by phone at 519-664-7572 or email at pwinfield@sjqc.ca, and she’ll do her best to get back to the work she loves.

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