North: A retired doctor recycles operating drapes into sleeping bags for the homeless

North: A retired doctor recycles operating drapes into sleeping bags for the homeless

Well-ordered charity begins with others. After devoting his active life to medicine, Dr. Bruno Maetz is retiring to help people in need. Inspired by the initiative of a nurse with whom he worked when he was still practicing ENT surgery at the Saint-Amé clinic in Douai, in the North, he set up the Bettina project. The idea is to recycle surgical fields that were destined for destruction to make sleeping bags for homeless people.

The Bettina sleeping bag. – 20 minutes

At the time, a few years ago now, Dr. Maetz had discovered that his operating room nurse, named Bettina, was spending her free time making sleeping bags for the homeless from surgical drapes recovered at the clinic. “She did this alone, on her scale, and even if she sewed quickly, it still took her an hour and a half to finish a bag,” recalls Bruno Maetz. Touched by this initiative, the ENT surgeon, with Bettina’s agreement, decided to move up a gear.

A free and almost inexhaustible windfall

He involved the Kiwanis service club in Douai, of which he is a member, to improve the bag and try to produce it in larger quantities. “We worked with the Maraudes association to develop the prototype. It had to be wide enough, with a pocket to put things in and it had to be robust and relatively waterproof,” explains Bruno Maetz.

For the raw material, the Saint-Amé clinic, of the Ramsay group, provides the retired doctor with an almost inexhaustible windfall free of charge. “These are sterile sheets that are used to place on the devices in the operating theaters and which are therefore not stained with blood”, makes a point of specifying Dr. Maetz. Several are needed for each intervention and they are systematically discarded afterwards. “It’s a fairly thick fabric which has the advantage of not burning and which is water-repellent”, he adds.

The clothing is taken care of by the workers of the Esat de Valenciennes. About fifty sleeping bags have thus been produced and entrusted to homeless aid associations which are in charge of distribution. “This project is ecological because of its recycling side, social because it employs people with disabilities, and humanitarian. But it also has a cost that we, volunteers, cannot assume indefinitely”, recognizes Bruno Maetz. The cost price of a bag is around 20 euros, so the Bettina association is looking for benefactors to ensure that this initiative continues, or even to extend it. At 68, the ex-doctor took his pilgrim’s staff to go hunting for grants. To your good heart, ladies and gentlemen elected officials.


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