Decorative mirror and furniture manufacturer, The Howard Elliott Collection, has shifted gears to start manufacturing protective masks for healthcare workers to meet local demand. The manufacturing business first opened in 2001, and occupies a facility in Addison, IL.
“I woke up in the middle of the night last week to hear on the news that there was a shortage of surgical masks in the country and I quickly was figuring out how we could help,” said Brian Berk, President of the company. “I quickly realized that many of the materials used in a protective mask are the same materials we use in the production of some of our home furnishing products! After a few prototypes were made in our sewing operation, we have been able to begin producing the masks much more efficiently.”
The company has the capacity to produce thousands of masks and has been for the past week. Currently, they are offering their masks to any medical center that will accept them despite not being FDA approved. Berk is working with governmental officials at both state and federal levels, as well as the Illinois Manufacturers Association to try to source and procure as many necessary materials to provide the personal protective equipment to the Illinois and nearby health care workers.
“The most challenging part of this right now is working through the ‘red tape.’ While I realize that there needs to be rules and regulations, these masks are certainly better than what I am learning the medical community is being forced to use in many instances. I have heard several stories that they are re-using masks for days of cutting up hospital gowns and other outer-wear!”
This past weekend, Berk along with his family, wife, Davida and daughters, Marley and Amanda and son Tyler, all pitched in to deliver the donated protective masks to Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, St Catherine’s, St Mary’s, The Will County Senior Center and the Munster Community Center in Indiana, the University of Chicago Oncology Department and the family's favorite local sushi restaurant.
“It is nice to hear from these doctors who have reached out to express their gratitude, but we are replying to them that they are the heroes and thanking them for all their efforts to care for us during this crisis,” said Berk.