Free Masks For Nursing Staff

In May of 2020, Ethan Wingate made his rounds in a Toronto neighborhood when he stumbles upon the following note:

I’m an ER nurse at Sunnybrook Hospital. I am sewing Operating Room Caps to cover hair at work for myself, other nurses, and any staff at the hospital as part of our PPE. I especially need cotton fabric. Designs, flowers or even plain old cloth would be appreciated. Some examples are cotton sheets (any size, kids too), cotton dress shirts (even Hawaiian), old scrubs—tops or pants, cotton dress, etc., or just fabric. We need cloth for trauma patients, etc. too.

If you have extra material from projects, you can leave them outside my door. I’m on nights this week so no need to knock. I’ll appreciate anything you have. You can text me as well if need be.

Mr. Wingate, the designer for, was so moved he donated 200 of his masks to the Sunnybrook Hospital himself. He and his team have recently pivoted from their collections to making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to produce free masks for the nursing staff. Now available at

The Race For Masks

Nurses are having to either purchase or produce their own PPE as they face the stresses of everyday work. Concern is rising over the disposal of face shields, bands and other unwashable items due to environment, waste and cost. “Items must be thrown away after each shift” says Tina, an OR nurse.

Already in place is a partnership of Mr. Wingate and Dr. Grant Lum of Athletic Edge Sports Medicine (AESM) Physiotherapy Clinic. The task was to design a mask both fashionable and protective. The result was a mask with a protective and effective filter.

Particularly for the greater Toronto community, the race for masks has been answered by a local designer and his relationships with other concerned and dedicated professionals. The story of Trauma at Sunnybrook’s OR was a common one before Covid-19. Not so common; however, is their new source of PPE. An experience we hope to see duplicated elsewhere.  

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Ethan Wingate