Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing is set to begin production of protective face masks for the medical staff at Rochester General Hospital, the Rochester manufacturer said Tuesday.
“We have hundreds of the best sewing machine operators in the country. When Rochester General made the request, of course, we answered the call. We will do whatever it takes,” HFTC CEO Stephen Granovsky said in a statement. “This is a small contribution compared to the health care workers we are helping protect.”
The North Clinton Avenue factory is manufacturing with an initial on-site staff, which will grow as needed, officials said. The plant had closed temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic to protect employees, but new practices for distance and disinfection are being implemented to protect the staff brought back to make the masks.
RGH uses some 15,000 masks each day and that number could increase due to the pandemic, according to the statement. Hospital personnel worked with Jeffery Diduch, vice president of technical design for HFTC, to create a protective mask that can be used by their staff.
Since announcing the initiative on social media last weekend, Hickey Freeman has received responses from more than 7,000 volunteers. The company is considering expanding its capacity by producing at-
home kits for volunteers who have the skills and ability to contribute.
“I expected there would be people in the community who would want to help, but the response has exceeded anything I could have imagined,” Diduch said. “In this time of crisis, Americans are ready to do what they can. It’s truly inspiring.”
HFTC, a luxury menswear brand, has called Rochester home for more than 120 years. The company is owned by Grano Retail Holdings, a company founded by Granovsky in 2007 to acquire merchandising businesses with growth opportunities.
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