MORGANTOWN — A stitch in time … just might help save the life of a Morgantown healthcare worker in the days ahead, as the city and region readies for COVID-19 on the Big and Tall scale.
Harry Yurekli and Ahmed Mohammed can tell you all about it.
Or rather, they could have Monday, if they weren’t too busy sewing.
Yurekli and Mohammed are master tailors at Daniel’s, the iconic men’s fashion store in Suncrest that has been part of the Morgantown business fabric since 1963.
The tailors that afternoon were crafting supplemental hospital masks for J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital and Mon Health Medical Center.
“Supplemental,” because they’re made to fit over regulation hospital masks, as a double layer of protection.
Daniel’s owner Phil Mauser said he put the duo to work over the weekend.
That was after the family pediatrician called the fashion guy (and father of a newborn) to ask if he knew anyone in the industry who could wield a needle and thread.
The idea was to amass some critical gear — as hospitals begin hunkering down for what could be a surge in coronavirus cases across north-central West Virginia.
Mauser chuckled. “I said, ‘Yeah, I might know somebody.’ Harry and Ahmed are the best in the business.”
Pandemics, meanwhile, aren’t funny to him at all, no sir.
On his way to the fashion retail business, he earned a degree in biology. He never really used it for a paycheck, he said, but the academics are still there.
He closed his store for the time being last week, because, he said, he was wearing those academics, plus some common sense, on his sleeve.
“I didn’t want to put our customers at risk,” he said. “I didn’t want to risk carrying something home to wife and baby.”
After he got the phone with the pediatrician, he carried two of Daniel’s industrial sewing mach-ines over to Harry and Ahmed.
Add 300 dozen (or so) high-spun yards of 100% cotton (plus elastic, for the earpieces) and you’ve got yourself a stylishly effective ensemble, he said.
It takes the stitching duo around 8 to 10 minutes to make a mask, Mauser said, and he delivered about 400 of them to Ruby and Mon Health on Monday.
Altruism is always a nice fit, he said.
“Our customers and our community mean everything to us,” he said. “And until we get through this, this is something we can do.”