My Ol’ Blues helps to make personal protective gowns for COVID-19 fight

Kim Orford, an employee at My Ol’ Blues in Gore Bay, dons a mask as she sews together nursing gowns the business is making, for front-line health care personnel. The business is working co-operatively with Pro Stitch, based in Sudbury, on this project.

GORE BAY – A Gore Bay business has stepped up to help provide nursing gowns for front-line health care personnel in their work fighting COVID-19, helping to stop the spread of the virus. 

“My business has been listed on the Canadian site for being approved to make personal protective equipment (PPE) (nursing gowns) here,” said Kathy Antonio of My Ol’ Blues in Gore Bay this past Saturday. The business is working with Pro Stitch, based out of Sudbury. 

“I stopped a postage guy who works for Pro Stitch in Sudbury; my thought was that instead of both of us trying to get contracts (to make PPE) that we could pair up and I contacted him to see if he was interested,” said Ms. Antonio (who pointed out she continues to use Manitoulin Transport for shipping). 

“I really like the design they have (for the nursing gowns),” said Ms. Antonio. She explained that My Ol’ Blues receives the nursing gowns, elastic and ties from Pro Stitch, “then Kim (Orford) and I sew the nursing gowns together, pack them and have them shipped back. Basically my business is acting as a sub-contract company for Pro Stitch.”

Ms. Antonio said her business will continue to help make the nursing gowns, “until COVID-19 has been eliminated. We received our first shipment of the materials for 500 (nursing gowns); it would almost be better to have 1,000 shipped at a time here, and then we can ship 500 at a time and have 500 more to work on immediately instead of having to wait for the next shipment. But these are things we will iron out (with Pro Stitch).”

She had originally talked to LAMBAC when her business was registered with the Canadian government to help make the nursing gowns. 

The nursing gowns are “going everywhere. We have sent them to Alberta, Quebec, Utah, and today we are sending some to Orillia,” continued Ms. Antonio. “What we are doing is helping to make a big difference for Pro Stitch because it is work we already have a lot of expertise in and we ship them (nursing gowns) from here. Kim and I have been doing this type of work long enough that we know and understand the process, so it runs smoothly.”

“We are still keeping in touch with our regular customers,” said Ms. Antonio. “At the time when everything was shut down in the province due to the virus, we usually hold our annual business spring sale in March. We received a really good response and although the store is closed, we will continue the sale online.”

Ms. Antonio pointed out even during outbreaks like SARS, “we still had customers. But this virus is really different than any of us have ever seen in our lifetime.” 

“I’ve been doing webinars with a woman in the manufacturing industry in the UK. She gives lot of information on design to manufacturing. In the first week of January she told everyone to get ready because things were starting to shut down because of COVID-19. I started to think of how we could weather this storm,” said Ms. Antonio. “This virus isn’t going to take this business out.” 

“We’ll keep our machines going and see what happens over the next few months,” she said, noting, “Kim and I are both wearing masks and maintaining the proper social distancing, working at least two metres away from each other.”