"Face Shields for Healthcare Workers" The Story of An Inspiring Project to Help During COVID-19
This is a story written by a woman who, in light of the severe PPE shortage, organized a group of volunteers to make face shields which they donate to healthcare organizations across CT's Northwest Connecticut. We are grateful for their donation to Noble Horizons and for the opportunity to share their story which exemplifies the redemptive refrain of this theme of this pandemic: Together and we will get through this.
My husband Eric and I are both frontline workers-Eric a Farmington police sergeant and I am a Labor and Delivery RN at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital. We have many friends and family in high-risk occupations, so the Covid-19 PPE shortage was a personal issue for us. We had a few 3D printers at home, and in mid-March secured 3D printing face shield components for a regional volunteer print group.
Not long after we started printing, an email arrived from friends in a neighborhood group looking for ways to help a nurse friend who was working in a local hospital's Emergency Department (ED) with frightfully little PPE. This nurse's mom was determined to help her daughter and we knew we could do something. We completed a face shield design that we print and assembled here at home, and dropped off for our ED friend and her coworkers.
The reusable shields are composed of a medical-grade plastic headpiece and a replaceable face shield. That same neighborhood group quickly mobilized it's members to source donations for PPE and thousands of the needed transparency sheets. Most of these transparencies were generously donated by a network of teachers and schools who were happy to donate whatever they could. There were untold numbers of front porch pick-ups and drop-offs, email chains and phone calls that made it all happen in a safe socially-distant manner.
Word got out and we ramped up production to help meet the need in other facilities. We were able to borrow five 3D printers from local schools who couldn't use them during the shutdown. We changed the shield design to one endorsed by the NIH and also began printing surgical mask "ear-savers" to help relieve the pressure of mask elastic on workers' ears. A wonderful group of folks from NYC residing here in CT during the pandemic also jumped on board with us and are printing and distributing shields as well. We have met more people and made more new friends during the "lockdown" than ever before. What a silver lining in these uncertain times!
A GoFundMe page set up to help defray supply costs has allowed Eric and I to continue the project longer than initially expected - printing has been going day and night since mid-March. The shields have made a big difference in our little corner of the world. As of now, we have produced and donated over 1,800 shields (and 500 ear-savers) to several hospitals, nursing homes, first responder agencies and other at-risk workers. The outpouring of support and interest from the community has been beyond heartwarming.
Trying times like these have been a real chance for us to witness the generosity and resiliency of the human spirit.