May 01, 2020

Hail to the crafters & makers: U-M adds cloth masks & 3-D printed mask adjusters to list of COVID-19 response needs

Protective gear, meals and funds to support front-line teams, and food and toiletries for local residents, still needed

Cloth masks

In the past six weeks, community members have shown incredible generosity in helping Michigan Medicine cope with protective gear supply shortages and other disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Michigan Medicine has started accepting donations of hand-made cloth masks for staff working in non-patient care settings, and 3-D printed “mask adjuster” bands to prevent sore ears among clinical staff.

The two new items join the list of other supplies and financial donations that Michigan Medicine is collecting to help its own team and community partners. These include personal protective gear such as masks, gowns and gloves; meals for front-line staff, and non-perishable food and toiletries for Food Gatherers.

Anyone can drive up and donate items from 12-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at Dock 90 of the U-M North Campus Research Complex, at 2800 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor. Shipments may also be directed to that address.

It’s also possible to give money online, sign up to send meals to front-line staff or raise money from others through “virtual 5K”, via

More about cloth masks and mask adjuster bands:

Many Michigan Medicine staff will be returning to work in coming weeks, as patient care and critical support operations ramp back up. Washable cloth masks for staff in non-patient care areas will help conserve medical-grade masks for teams working in patient care areas.

Patterns such as those provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or craft supply stores are preferred. Michigan Medicine is also using donated funds to purchase cloth masks as they become available, but supply chains are disrupted for these just as they are for disposable gear.

A specific pattern for a 3-D printed mask adjuster has been approved for use by Michigan Medicine clinical team members, in collaboration with a team from the College of Engineering and Office of Technology Transfer. It can be worn on the back of the head to hold the loops of medical-grade masks so that they don’t rub against the back of ears and cause sores.

The specifications for this item, and a 3-D printing pattern for face shields previously approved for use at U-M, are available at More than 25,000 face shields created by makers and companies have already been received; they help conserve the supply of disposable masks, and more are needed.

Donations to date

More than 1,900 people have given more than $1.2 million since late March, to help Michigan Medicine buy COVID-19 supplies, support front-line teams and advance research on the disease and its effects.

Nearly half a million protective gear items, from masks to boxes of gloves, have been dropped off or shipped to the donation site since it opened on March 20. A team of staff and medical students has sorted the donations and prepared them for use in the clinical care environment across U-M’s hospitals and clinics in three counties. Shipment inquiries and other questions can be sent to [email protected].

And Food Gatherers has picked up more than 13,000 pounds of non-perishable food and 2,000 pounds of diapers and toiletries from the donation site. The jump in unemployment and a new state program that expands home delivery of meals to anyone over 60 during the pandemic are increasing demand, even as usual sources of food donations are disrupted.

More than 13,000 prepackaged meals and tens of thousands of snacks for front-line workers have been delivered or scheduled from restaurants, food wholesalers and nonprofit organizations.

More than 200 people and families have already signed up for virtual 5K walks or runs or other digital fundraisers that allow them to raise money for Michigan Medicine’s COVID-19 response.

And community members have shared more than 8,000 virtual salutes to Michigan Medicine’s front-line team by posting photos and messages on social media using #HailtotheFrontline, or by uploading them at

For full lists of accepted items, online financial giving, contact information and more, visit