Krystal Rowan, RPSGT, was on Facebook when she saw a post from a friend. She called them “ear savers,” devices designed on a Cricut machine to secure the loopholes of a PPE mask behind the head as opposed to behind the ears. Rowan, who also had a Cricut, jumped into action.

Since then, she’s created hundreds of these Ear Savers to give to healthcare workers and first responders for free.

“It’s just a way I knew I could help,” she said.

Rowan is a sleep technologist at Baylor Scott & White Health in Taylor, Texas. Since COVID-19 hit, she’s been redeployed throughout the hospital, doing screenings and keeping track of PPE. While she’s worn masks before, with her new roles around the hospital, she’s been wearing masks for upward of 12 hours.

She made her own ear savers to use and said the relief was instant.

“A lot of people who aren’t used to wearing masks are having to wear them — especially sleep technologists relocating to screening positions at the hospital,” she said. “My ears were hurting so bad. It’s not easy, and it’s so hard to try not to touch it to adjust it. You want to move it around sometimes but you can’t do that.”

Making the devices is relatively easy. She used her Cricut, a cutting machine that is typically used in creating a variety of types of crafts. Rowan bought hers for her wedding to make invitations — and then later to create unique t-shirt designs. Using a plastic material and the pattern from her friend, Rowan said she is able to create about seven ear savers in one batch, which can take about five to 10 minutes.

Her first batch went to her coworkers at the hospital and first responders in her community. She posted on Facebook asking whether anyone needed the ear savers, and since then she’s been sending them out every week. Her husband has even joined in on the effort, too — Rowan said sometimes she’ll return from a shift at the hospital to find her husband made 100 to 120 ear savers while she was at work.

For her, this is a way she can give back to her healthcare cohort and the first responders on the frontlines. It’s just another example of how sleep technologists work to help people near and far.

“Sleep technologists inherently want to help — they’re out here to improve people’s quality of life,” she said. “We want to make everyone’s life a little easier in any way we can.”

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