Silver State Industries, the industrial arm of the Nevada Department of Corrections, has launched a manufacturing program to produce medical gowns and masks to help protect Nevadans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“NDOC has the experience,
equipment, and manpower needed to mass-produce personal protective equipment,”
said Charles Daniels, NDOC director. “The global shortage is putting people at
risk of contracting COVID-19, and our department is doing its part by helping
meet this urgent demand for medical gowns and masks.”
The production involves more
than 100 offenders at Lovelock Correctional Center and Northern Nevada
Correctional Center who work around the clock in assembly-line fashion to help
meet the demand for this life-saving equipment.
Creating a medical gown
requires fabric that is 65% cotton and 35% polyester, and 1⁄4-inch elastic.
This material is delivered to LCC and NNCC, where it’s fed into the assembly
Two offenders start the
process by cutting a cotton sheet into a 3 x 6-foot rectangle. The fabric then
passes through multiple stations where offenders attach the left and right
sleeves, collar, left and right wristbands, left and right arms, and belt. With
all of the pieces inplace, the gown is serged together with a two-up / two-down
weave, and hemmed where the cloth edge is folded narrowly and sewn to prevent unravelling.
Then the elastic parts are added. Next, offenders performing a quality control
check, gently fold the gowns and package 100 into a box, and prepare the boxes
Silver State Industry drivers
pick up the medical gowns and masks from LCC and NNCC and deliver them to
central processing stations where they’re distributed to medical clinics,
hospitals, nursing homes, and other places throughout Nevada.
An assembly-line process
involving more than 60 offenders is used to create face masks as well. On
average, more than 500 medical gowns and 3,500 facemasks are made every day.
“Silver State Industries had
to revamp its current sewing structure in order to create the gowns and masks,”
said Matthew Brown, supervisor. “We accepted this challenge, revamped the
structure and created samples. When those were approved, we
went into production on March
25 and haven’t stopped since. This pandemic reminded everyone that individuals
can band together to create something for the common good.”
Since offenders began
creating the gowns and masks, they have been receiving letters from the public
expressing appreciation for what they’re doing. The importance of their work
wasn’t lost on offenders at Lovelock Correctional Center.
“This work helps me build
character and the understanding that there are other things in life besides
crime,” said Alquandre Turner, who has worked at Silver State Industries for
eight years. “I have a family, and creating masks to help other families feels
Offender Arnold P. Bertnick,
who has worked at Silver State Industries for seven years, agreed saying he
wanted to do anything he could to protect his loved ones. “This is rewarding
work because we known we’re helping our families and friends, and the
community. It’s also good experience. In the past we’ve created life vests,
medical blankets, and other safety gear, so everyone knew how to switch to
making face masks and gowns.”
Creating and distributing
gowns and masks are just one of many public health measures NDOC is taking
during the COVID-19 pandemic. At its own facilities, NDOC suspended visitation,
screens all incoming staff for symptoms of COVID-19, requires staff to wear
face masks at secure facilities, and employs Surface Sanitation Teams to
thoroughly clean surfaces using a 10% bleach solution. Offenders at NNCC are
also creating thousands of 2-oz bottles of hand sanitizer for law enforcement
and medical personnel.
To learn more about Silver
State Industries, please visit www.ssi.nv.gov.
Learn about NDOC’s COVID-19
response at www.doc.nv.gov/About/Press_Release/covid19_updates.