An ongoing effort to produce medical scrubs for frontline workers in the fight against coronavirus is getting a helping hand from The Shetland Times
The newspaper is using printing equipment to produce pattern designs for the protective gear to be worn by hospital and care home staff in the isles and on the Scottish mainland.
Workers at NHS Shetland initially used standard home or office equipment to print off designs used for the new scrubs.
But because the machines would only print up to A4 size, dedicated workers had to print off almost 40 pages, and later join them together, just to make up one whole design.
The required material was then laid on top of the pattern to be cut into shape.
The whole process was cumbersome – so The Shetland Times has stepped in to offer its assistance by printing the designs on specialist equipment at its premises in Lerwick’s Gremista Industrial Estate.
It has printed off 25 sets of scrubs free of charge to help meet demand.
Once NHS Shetland has sufficiently filled the gap here, plans are in place to send more scrubs down to the mainland for use by staff at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Co-ordinating the effort is NHS Shetland worker Lisa Gray.
She said the early days of the scrubs appeal quickly saw laundry staff working seven days a week trying to meet demand among frontline workers.
“Every member of staff that passed between different departments and designated Covid areas needed to change uniform,” she said.
“We didn’t have an extended stock level. There was quite a long waiting time for more to come in.”
It was then that high-ranking officials at NHS Shetland said ‘let’s get a pattern and get sewing scrubs.’
Ms Gray said things quickly went “beyond our wildest dreams” after that.
“At the moment we have a fully stocked hospital.”
But there’s still no time to lose. Already new scrubs have been developed for five care homes across the isles, and the hospital in Aberdeen has also asked for assistance.
“We will help ARI once we’ve stocked the care homes,” said Ms Gray. “We’ve currently stocked five care homes and have three more to do. That five includes the Walter and Joan Gray.”
She added: “When we got the patterns we only had access to domestic printers.
“We just used the printer here. People would come and pick them up, take them home and stick 38 pages together to make a full-size pattern. You get your cloth on top of a pattern and cut round it, but because we could only print off on A4, we needed 38 pages.”
Meanwhile, NHS Shetland is still on the lookout for donations of finished scrubs.
It has put out green bins for donations at Montfield in Lerwick, as well as health centres in Brae, Levenwick and Bixter.
Shetland Times chief executive Colin Grant said: “I contacted the NHS at the start of the pandemic to offer our assistance and machinery capabilities free of charge, so it’s been uplifting for our team to get involved and do our peerie bit.
“We are delighted to have helped out the NHS by printing these scrubs patterns for them.”
He said he hoped the colourful end products would raise the spirits of key workers and patients, as well as offer the required protection.