School gym becomes factory for hospital face shields

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:10 PM EDT
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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - You’ve probably heard of the nationwide shortage of protective gear for hospital staff treating COVID-19. There’s now a collaboration between Samaritan Medical Center and the community to fill the need in Watertown.

The gym at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES in the town of Watertown has become the factory floor for face shields.

Samaritan Medical Center is looking for 1,000 to protect staff treating patients with COVID-19.

Mari Cecil has spearheaded finding people to produce them. She says friends and family in health care are her inspiration.

"The idea that they may not have PPE to protect them and their families when they leave for the day really bothered me," said Cecil.

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment, something Beth Fipps, vice president of SMC Foundation and Community Services, says the hospital simply doesn’t have enough of.

"There is a shortage of the face shields, masks and gowns at this point," she said.

Materials for the face shields have been 3D printed by local businesses, schools, and people.

And it's all being put together by community volunteers.

Fipps says she's enjoyed watching the process unfold.

"It's been an amazing amount of community spirit and partnering and really thinking outside the box," she said.

The face shields being printed are based on a design by Budmen Industries out of Central New York. Cecil says that design has recently been approved by the National Institute of Health.

"They've been sharing all of their files so that we can tweak the production as they find things out," she said.

Cecil says she's receiving requests from other health care providers to produce face shields.

But, the ones being produced at BOCES Tuesday are strictly for Samaritan.

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