NHRMC staff members are working together to make face shields to help ensure those caring for patients at NHRMC will continue to have necessary personal protective equipment even though suppliers are facing an unprecedented demand for certain products due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When they heard about the worldwide possibilities of shortages, some staff members began to research ideas about how to make face shields. The face shields help healthcare workers comply with CDC guidelines for eye protection and help protect the N-95 masks worn by the workers from potentially infectious droplet particles.
NHRMC Director of Facilities David Bellegante has been overseeing production of the face shields along with project manager Mike Padrick. “We took different ideas from some different people and came up with a way to design and make our own,” Bellegante said.
A team made up of representatives from the facilities department, NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital operating room, and the Non-Invasive Vascular Lab (NIVL) have been making face shields for staff to wear with N-95 masks.
To create the shields, NHRMC acquired large sheets of .03 lexan, a type of clear plastic, cut based on the design the team developed. Then, some members of the team add strapping materials and buckles to make the shields. A team from NHRMC Innovation has also been helping to make face shields for staff using materials and assistance from individuals from some local companies.
“I think it’s incredible to be able to do this because being able to supplement the supply of protective equipment our employees need to take care of these patients is a high priority,” Bellegante said.
The teams have also been working together on creating face shields for use with CAPRS, controlled air purifying respirators systems, which provide respiratory protection against aerosolized and airborne droplet contaminants.
A CAPR face shield prototype was designed and created by team members from innovation and facilities and was recently approved by safety officers, and Bellegante said his team started making the CAPR shields Thursday morning.
Jenny Walters, an intensive care unit manager at NHRMC, describes the effort to make face shields in house and provide them for staff “amazing.” She’s looking forward to production of the face shields for CAPRs.
“The CAPR helmet and shields are the same level of protection as having an N95 mask and a face shield, but CAPRs have their own filtration system in them, and they also blow cool air into your face,” Walters said. “So, they’re better for people who have to wear them for long periods of time because many people struggle wearing N95s for extended periods of time.”
According to Bellegante, at least 1,680 face shields to be used with N95 masks have been made with a goal of 2,500 reusable face shields. Another 600 CAPR face shields have been completed in two weeks.
Director of Innovation Chris Hillier said he enjoyed seeing the teamwork that has gone into supporting staff with this and similar projects at NHRMC.
“It’s really been inspiring,” he said. “People from across the organization have been contributing. Essentially, all the projects combine clinical staff with operational staff…and it’s really a team effort. Everyone contributes. It’s amazing teamwork.”