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Nurse separated from his family inspires headbands to save health care workers' faces

The headbands are supposed to help prevent the masks from making marks on their faces.

PORTLAND, Maine — With some old leggings, buttons and a little thread, Gina Kostopoulos started a mission to help health care workers across the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t imagine being on the frontlines of this,” Kostopoulos said.

She decided to make headbands to relieve the stress caused by face masks on the ears of providers. The mask simply fastens around buttons attached to the headband.

“To have something as simple as this to hook the mask to. It's incredible,” she said.

RELATED: South Portland teachers use school technology to make face shields, masks

Using social media, Kostopoulos was able to recruit people from all over Maine and New Hampshire to make the headbands.

Credit: NCM

Together they crafted more than 500 of them in less than a week.

It was all inspired by her cousin, Al Axelsen.

“He's been an inspiration,” Kostopoulos said.

Axelsen is a nurse treating COVID-19 patients at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

“It just feels like there's so much work to be done,” Axelsen said.

He and his family have been separated for more than a week. Axelsen is now living in a temporary apartment to avoid exposing them to the virus.

Credit: NCM

"We still have to reduce our risk. You just don't know. That's the big issue here,” Axelsen’s wife Samantha Rispoli said.

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But when it came down to protecting their at-risk daughter, it was a critical move. The three-year-old has cystic fibrosis.

"It wasn't really a decision to make when you consider safety,” he said. "Not seeing my child every day is weighing on me, but I feel compelled to be a part of this.”

"As humans, I think that's our job to help other humans in a time of need,” Kostopoulos said.

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