Wilton family makes scrub caps for nurses

WILTON — While on Facebook recently, Nancy Pantoliano saw a post from a Wilton nurse who was issuing a plea for scrub caps.

With medical supplies dwindling at her hospital due to the coronavirus pandemic, she told Pantoliano that nurses handling patients in quarantine were running low on scrub caps and would soon not have anything to wear on their heads, leaving them exposed.

Pantoliano quickly came to her aid.

Although she had little experience with sewing, Pantoliano broke out her mother’s old sewing machine and she and her daughters have made close to 100 scrub caps in the past few days.

She delivered them to nurses who in turn distributed them to ICUs at Norwalk Hospital, Danbury Hospital, Beth Israel and Montefiore Medical Center in New York, and Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, where there is an influx of patients with COVID-19.

In response, nurses have sent Pantoliano thank you notes and photos of them wearing the homemade caps.

One of the notes said, “With everything that is going on and the fear and uncertainty that everyone is feeling, these caps will be a gentle reminder for me that there is still so much good news and love in the world and that over time we will overcome this!”

Pantoliano was touched by the response and wants to do more to help. “We’re going to continue making the caps until I run out of material,” she told Hearst Connecticut Media.

But she has run into a stumbling block.

She has plenty of fabric for the caps, but is running low on the elastic that holds the caps in place. “It takes three inches of quarter-inch braided elastic on each cap, and my supply is low. It is difficult to find quarter-inch braided elastic right now,” she said.

Pantoliano has turned the dining room in her Wilton home into a makeshift scrub cap factory. As a former quilter, she has plenty of colorful quilting fabric on hand to make the caps. “I have cute animal prints with bunnies, frogs, and hippos on them, and patriotic prints with stars and stripes. We’re all set on the fabric end,” she said.

Like many others, Pantoliano is working from home these days. She is juggling her job as office leader for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Westport and Rowayton, with her newfound passion for making scrub caps.

A true family affair, Pantoliano sews the caps guided by a YouTube instructional video. Her daughters Dani and Izze help by cutting out the fabric from a cardboard pattern they made, prepping them, then pressing them.

“Some of the caps are being used on their own, while others are being used to cover face masks and other scrub caps,” Pantoliano said.

The caps offer nurses an extra layer of protection so their medically issued ones can be reused.

Pantoliano welcomes assistance from others who would like to help make more scrub caps for the nurses.

“This is keeping me sane. I recommend that anyone who can do something like this, do it. A project like this really grounds you during this time,” she said.

Anyone interested in making scrub caps may contact Pantoliano for directions and information through a private message on Facebook at Pantzplace (Nancy Sheppard-Pantoliano).

Pantoliano also welcomes much-needed donations of quarter-inch braided elastic. She does not want any money or financial donations. Elastic donations and finished caps can be sent or dropped off to Nancy Pantoliano, 5 River Road, Box 308, Wilton CT 06897.