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'If I had to make a million of them, I probably would': Woman eases pain from masks for health care workers

Masks have been a critical part of stopping the spread of COVID-19, but they're causing another problem for health care workers.

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Masks have been a critical part of stopping the spread of COVID-19, but they're causing another problem for health care workers.

The elastic that keeps the masks in place are wrapped tightly around the ears of people who need them.

Alexis Rhino, a certified nursing assistant and Rebecka Christiana, a registered nurse, both work at Plattsburgh Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in New York. They wear the masks up to 16 hours per day.

Rhino and Christiana said their ears were very sore at the end of each shift.

"I know for me I'd go home at the end of the night, and even by evening time, it was tender to sleep on my ears. I had to sleep on my back," Christiana said.

Rhino said it hurt so much, “it was difficult to do my job being in pain like that.”

Shelley Desroshes came to the rescue. She loves to crochet and found a pattern that would take the pressure off health care workers' ears.

Desroches, from Peru, New York, started making mask extenders. She crocheted about three inches of soft yarn into a line and put buttons on each side. The elastic wrapped around the buttons and kept the masks in place.

“It makes me feel good. Helping these people out that have to wear these masks every single day,” Desroches said. “You hear of their ears bleeding and breaking down.”

"It’s definitely a relief to not be in pain anymore and give the best care that I can to my residents," Rhino said.

"It’s those little gestures in something that's three inches long and hand crafted and it means the world to us, it really does," Christiana added.

Desroches loves to crochet. She’s been doing it since she was a kid. She can make an extender in a matter of minutes.

That’s a good thing, because when word got out about these ear savers, Desroches says she was flooded with orders.

There are more than a thousand of them helping peoples’ ears already, and Derosches received an order from the nurses union for 500 more.

She doesn’t charge for them. She turned her hobby into a way to help people during the pandemic and says that makes her feel good.

It’s not just health care workers that are wearing them. People who work at restaurants needed them, too.

Desroches said she won’t stop until everyone who needs a mask extender has one.

"We're living in a crazy world right now, and these people have to have these. If I had to make a million of them, I probably would," she said.