Masked Heroes


Caption:  Sheila Shepherd, Mask Hero at St. Clair Hospital

Masks have become as commonplace as having a cell phone!   So, why not personalize or have a mask created that is reflective of you!

That’s what Sheila Shepherd, a full-time cook for St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh has been “stitching” in her spare time!  According to Sheila who is known for her chicken Marsala and caramel brownies, “I started to sew masks for my sister, Michelle Sieman, who is a cancer survivor.  Because she is high risk, I wanted her to be best protected.”

Sheila, who is from Castle Shannon, PA, is donating her time by sewing hundreds of one-of-a-kind masks with materials of her customers’ choice.  She uses a surgical style mask pattern, creating them with a non-woven fabric to filter the mask.    “I started looking online and adapted my mask with a built-in interface (a stiffener for the fabric), which provides additional protection for the filter you choose.”  Sheila suggests heap sweeper bags or furnace filters.   The pockets are designed so that the elastic can be removed or replaced with another material.

“Another unique addition are the pockets sewn on the side of each mask.  Instead of sewing the elastic into the side of the mask, the elastic is threaded through the pocket so the customers have a choice of the fasteners,” she says.

To date, Sheila has sewn and sold 350 masks, and is busy filling 225 additional orders for nurses, housekeepers, dining team members, family and friends!

This isn’t her first go at sewing.  Sheila grew up in a household of sewing and crochet enthusiasts.  Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother sewed all of her and her sister’s Halloween costumes, and special occasion dresses for prom and communion.  “We always had a one of a kind!”

At a cost of only $1.50 per mask, which covers only the cost of the material, Sheila donates her time, along with her sister and her sister’s daughters, Shannon and Emily, who have also volunteered to help pin and iron the fabric!

When asked what the most popular fabrics are?  “Sugar skulls, comic book characters from Marvel Comics and Star Wars.  Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins fabrics have also picked up.”

Sheila wasn’t doing this for recognition – “I was doing this to help keep the people I serve and work with safe, and most of all, my sister, who is my inspiration in continuing our ‘one of a kind’ family tradition,” says Sheila.

In other mask news, Mary Coward, a supervisor at Allegheny Health Network at Allegheny Hospital in Natrona Heights, PA, made 100 masks for the dining team.


Caption:  Supervisor Mary Coward from Allegheny Health Network Allegheny Valley Hospital

Cura was also proud to facilitate the purchase of ONE MILLION coffee filters for Holy Redeemer Health System in Philadelphia for their idea to adapt as masks for healthcare workers. Cura also worked with their vendor, Philly Pretzel Factory Abington, that worked with Cura on the purchase of 50,000 bags. Workers place their masks in the bags when they remove them to eat lunch.  Cura’s culinary team provides personal-centered care to the Holy Redeemer Hospital at the Meadowbrook campus and to St. Joseph’s Manor Care.