Tompkinsville News …

Posted April 29, 2020 at 1:45 pm

For over 40 years, Stitches has been putting–well, stitches in fabric in Gamaliel. However, the type of sewing and fabric was drastically changed over the last month in the midst of the COVID-19 battle.

From the stone washed jeans of the ‘80s to safety equipment for their current contract with Tyndale, Stitches has grown and adapted over the years to fit the changing times. And over the past month, the times have sure changed.

Stitches’ operators were producing fire-retardant pants for power line and utility workers–up to 3,000 pairs per week–when the news of the shut down came through channels.

“At first we anticipated being closed for two weeks and reassessing the situation,” manager Donnie Peden said.

“However, we were then contacted by the Kentucky COVID-19 task force to make disposable gowns to be worn by healthcare workers during drive through testing.

“This is something we absolutely have to do. How do we not?” Peden added.

After samples were made and approved for production, the Stitches crew redesigned their factory to meet appropriate distancing guidelines, received the rolls of required materials and put their machines to humming.

“We were contacted by an entrepreneur, through a mutual friend, who was working with the governor’s office. They were working to try to locate or manufacture PPE, and asked if we could help,” Peden said.

“Early in the conversation it was determined that the material had to be water repellent and something we could quickly and easily get our hands on. That’s when we came up with Tyvek. Tyvek is usually used in construction of new buildings, to wrap the structure before siding or brick is applied,” he added.

As the COVID-19 awareness and information spread, Peden had been especially concerned over his family’s children, sister, several nieces, cousins and friends that were on the “front lines” battling in the medical field. So when the chance to be able to help in some way (came), he jumped in immediately.

Peden then contacted employees and asked for workers who were skilled on the needed machines to come to work on sewing medical gowns, one of the needed items.

“The safety and health of our employees if first and foremost. Practicing good hygiene and social distancing in the work place requires being spread out with no face to face contact and frequent hand washing and sanitizing of hard surfaces,” Peden said.

“Although this creates a lot of extra work, we made the adjustments,” he said.

The stricter precautions were a little unhandy, but Peden noted that they decided to “step up to the challenge.” We have the best employees and they were on board to do what we have to do to be safe and productive during this sensitive time.”

“The lack of PPE for those healthcare providers is scary. Making masks and donating PPE is such an unselfish act, even though it seems like such a small thing in the big picture. Those deeds do not go unnoticed.”

Peden and some of his workers are very proud that some of the local health care providers were able to receive some of the inventory and “that makes us especially happy. We have a lot of great feedback on the gowns and we are so glad to be doing our little part,” he said.

After week three, Stitches had completed almost 4,300 gowns.

“We are following CDC guidelines in every way. In addition to the extra space between machines, we also do hourly hand washing between breaks and we will be frequently disinfecting hard surfaces and commonly used areas.

“Employees are being monitored for fever and/or sickness and are encouraged to stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms,” Peden said.

“We are not only glad to be working, we’re glad to be able to help our front line workers in any way possible,” he said. “Every single one was willing to do what was needed with no hesitation.”