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Passavant Sewing Ladies Recognized as IHA Healthcare Heroes


The Passavant Sewing Ladies have long served the doctors, nurses and staff at Passavant Area Hospital, and are one of the few volunteer sewing groups that continue to operate in a hospital setting. For decades, the group has created pillowcases and blankets for pediatric patients, hosted scrub alteration clinics and more. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is helping to provide homemade cloth masks to non-clinical hospital employees and visitors.

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) recently recognized the Passavant Sewing Ladies as one of their Healthcare Heroes.

“It feels good to do something for someone else,” said Marcella Million, who has volunteered at Passavant for two years. She is one of about 15 women who are active in the sewing group.

It has been nearly eight weeks since volunteers have been allowed in-person at the hospital – part of Passavant’s efforts to protect the most vulnerable against COVID-19. “I miss going in [to the hospital] to sew,” said Million, “but sewing these masks at home still feels good. It’s worthwhile, and it’s a good feeling to participate in something so important, to help someone else.”

The effort to supply the hospital – and other healthcare and social service agencies in the Morgan County area – with cloth masks spread to include groups outside of the Passavant Sewing Ladies. Times Square Sewing Complex, a fabric and sewing retail business in downtown Jacksonville, has become a headquarters of sorts for local cloth mask-making efforts. Owner Sue Fox collects homemade cloth masks at her store and has donated fabric and supplies to help those making the cloth masks at home. Fox services the sewing machines used when the Passavant Sewing Ladies work onsite at the hospital.

“We’ve got gifted and talented people using their skills,” Fox recently told the Jacksonville Journal-Courier. “Sewers can use their hands to help our community.”