Nurse shares step-by-step instructions for making mask with up to 99.5% filtration efficiency

San Antonio nurse who designed mask shares her process

The chief executive nurse at University Health System has spent the past few weeks designing a mask tested to have a better filtration than the N-95 masks.

San AntonioUpdate: Nurse Tommye Austin is sharing her pattern and step-by-step instructions for making a mask with up to 99.5% filtration efficiency. The pattern is for non-commercial use only and is being provided with the understanding that UHS cannot guarantee that others using this design will have a mask as effective as the one created by Austin.

Materials Needed
  • Cotton weave fabric or surgical drape
  • AC Filter material with a MERV rating of >13 or better
  • All-purpose thread
  • Bobbin thread
  • 1/8 inch elastic (20 inches per mask)
  • Scissors
  • Swimmer’s tape
  1. Cut two 12 x12 pieces of AC filter material with a Merv rating of 13 or higher. Cut two pieces of 1/8 inch elastic: neck piece is 8 inches and head pieces is 10 inches. Please measure your head and neck if you want a tighter seal.
  2. Fold the 12 x 12 inch square of fabric in half.
  3. Fold Fabric 1 inch upward on each side to create air pocket. This fold creates the air pocket that allows the user to breathe better and avoid carbon dioxide build up.
  4. Measure mask across the face from cheek to cheek and mark.
  5. Press down seams at top of mask for ½ inches
  6. Trim edges across the top of the mask
  7. Insert metal nose piece and stitch it in place.
  8. Stitch each end elastic to each corner at the top of the mask. Stitch all layers together using a straight stitch. The filter material should be sandwiched between layers of the cotton fabric or surgical drape.

**Click here if you are unable to view the document with pictures and instructions below.

Original: The chief executive nurse at University Health System has spent the past few weeks designing a mask that was tested to have better filtration than the N-95 masks.

Nurse Tommye Austin said her entire goal was to ensure that medical personnel from all over have enough personal protective equipment in case a possible shortage takes place.

“In the event that we get a surge of COVID-19 patients in San Antonio, which is predicted to happen in May, we are making sure we have adequate and sufficient equipment for employees,” Austin said. “Once we learned that the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) had given us the ability to create masks, rather than using a bandana or a handkerchief, we decided to look at creating our own N-95.”

Austin said she went to Lowe’s to get AC filters.

“We had this AC filter material we purchased from Houston, Texas,” Austin said. “We started creating a mask that would fit like an N-95, that would have that whole seal across the face so that if you put it on, you would have a seal similar to the current N-95 we use.”

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Local nurse designs mask with 99.5% filtration efficiency

Austin said after having the masks tested by the Southwest Research Institute, they had fantastic results.

“The mask has a filtration rate of 99.5% with one material and has a 97.8% filtration efficiency with another material we are using,” Austin said. “So if the N-95 masks have a 95% filtration efficiency, that means it can eliminate at least 95% of the virus or bacteria trying to get through the mask.”

Austin said they are preparing for a possible surge by stockpiling the masks if they need the extra supply. She said they will have the masks fit-tested for the employees, and the masks can be used at least twice with the sanitation equipment they have in place for the cleaning their N-95 masks.

“We have been working with the Southwest Research Institute in making sure that we just not develop something we think is a good product but something that we know is a good product by using science,” Austin said. “It doesn’t have what we call carbon dioxide buildup, which could make you dizzy or (give you) a headache. It is comfortable, and you can wear it for long periods of time.”

So far, they have been able to make 600 masks and hope to produce 6,500 more.

“We are also sharing our design with the other facilities in San Antonio and whoever needs the design,” Austin said. “Hearing the stories from the nurses in New York and other hot spots, it was just heartbreaking. As a nurse, we are to be advocates for people, so my primary goal was not to make money off this mask or anything. The main purpose of this mask was to keep people safe.”

You can learn how to make the masks by following these instructions listed below:

**On Friday, a UHS spokesperson said the pattern for the mask will be made available on the UHS website soon.

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.