Local projects boost PPE supply
Thanks to a group of local 3D printing enthusiasts and a Portland garment company, Legacy Health System has received needed face shields and masks to protect its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legacy Health, on Monday, April 6, received a delivery of 1,000 face shields produced by 204 volunteers using 317 3D printers around the metro area.
The face shield effort was organized by Juan Barraza, the Director of Student Innovation at the Portland State University Center for Entrepreneurship.
Barraza said he was inspired to produce face protection after learning of an effort to make face shields started by friend Shashi Jain. A strategic innovation manager for Intel, Jain is organizer of the Portland 3D Printing Lab, a group of area 3D printing enthusiasts.
Barraza reached out to friends who work for Legacy, and within a couple of days had a prototype face shield approved by Legacy. The first delivery was 10 days after the process began.
Barraza called the quick turnaround from planning to producing the face shields a "logistics miracle."
The 3D printers produce the adjustable elastic straps that fasten to the shield and produce the support pieces that attached to the top and the bottom of the clear plastic shield.
Local organizations Ctrl-H and MC Laser Labs are buying the clear plastic for the shields and cutting it to size, according to Barraza.
The shields can be used to protect healthcare workers who treat and assist patients.
Barraza said his connections at Legacy Health led to that partnership, but that he has been in contact with local Providence and Kaiser Permanente facilities about providing shields.
"It's been incredible to see how many businesses have heard what's happening and have come up with innovative ways to help," said Brian Terrett, director of PR and communications for Legacy Health System.
One example is Portland Garment Factory, a small Portland business that normally produces garments and soft goods for a variety of clients. Portland Garment Factory is producing 3,500 general-use masks a week for Legacy facilities. It made its first delivery on Friday, April 3.
The medical-grade masks supplied by Portland Garment Factory cannot be used by those treating patients. They are for use by support staff working at Legacy facilities.
Britt Howard, owner of Portland Garment Factory, said pivoting to making protective masks was an easy decision once the need became clear and the number of orders dwindled.
Howard said her initial batch of 1,000 masks sold out within a few hours, then Legacy Health reached out to her.
Her one regret is that she doesn't have the capacity to help all area hospitals in this time of need.
Founded in 2008, Portland Garment Factory usually employs 15-20 workers and specializes in quick turnaround delivery of a variety of products. Experience filling orders with tight deadlines and producing a wide-variety of products made pivoting to making the masks for healthcare workers relatively smooth, according to Howard.
Howard said her business had medical-grade material on hand from a recent project and was able to develop 15 prototypes for the mask within a matter of days. She said she communicated with a doctor she connected with through Instagram to design the best mask.
Howard said working only with Legacy Health made logistical sense.
"It's tough to see the need and not be able to help everybody," Howard said.
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