COVID-19 Update

growingSTEMs has been working hard over the last month at designing, manufacturing, and distributing our PPE for our community!  As of today, we have delivered nearly 2,000 face shields to health care facilities. More than 1,000 face shields went to health care facilities in Maryland, with over half of this focused on our local Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital (MSMH).  

John Ingram works on assembling and packaging the 3D printed face shields.

As word about the face shield availability spread through the doctors and nurses network, we started getting requests from out of state health facilities with severe shortfalls.  Since early April, we’ve been shipping boxes of face shields to locations expressing critical needs across the country.  The New York area alone has received over 600.  A doctor from Columbia Hospital in New York took the time to write:

“I just want to say wow when I opened the door and saw those number of boxes with masks.  As I walked out of the intensive care unit on Friday after 13 hours and wearing the same face mask and shield that I’ve had for the week, having difficulty seeing through the face shield and the flimsy nature of it that was just supposed to be disposable after one use, your shields are so much better and will be a tremendous service to many, most who do not even have access to the single-use face shields”

While a Doctor in Connecticut writes:

“Just received your shipment of additional shields.  Thank you!!!  I’ve distributed all the shields you sent to 5 surgeons.  It is impossible to get face shields at this time if not hospital employed.  They’ve been a huge help.”

Recipients get a simple message when unpacking a box of face shields.  “We heard you needed these.  Please take care.”

We’ve sent shipments to nursing homes and infirmaries in Pennsylvania.  Working with Disaster Aid USA, we recently identified additional locations in Easton Maryland, Lake Charles Louisiana, and Cypress Texas and made more for them.

Zoe Lambert, Cody Graham, and John Ingram (left to right) clean the 3D printed frames before assembly.

Face shields have been essential to keeping our health care workers safe. The feedback on design has been overwhelmingly positive.  We’ve been able to rapidly adapt to requirement changes and develop a common supply chain for both our 3D printed and laser cut models, ensuring an adequate supply to any organization that requests them. From hospitals to urgent cares to dentist offices, they’re adaptable to healthcare facility needs.  We concentrate on robust development processes and managing supply chains which contributed to MSMH selecting us as their preferred face shield supplier.

Larry Branthoover works on repairing a batch of N95 respirators.

And our efforts haven’t stopped at face shield production. Our group has been working with MSMH to repair a large supply of the N95 respirators. Those respirators were inspected, fitted with durable face straps, and returned to service.  As of today, 5,880 respirators have been delivered back to MSMH, ready for use.

Three of the Laser Cut Intubation Shields that were delivered to MSMH.

In addition to head-mounted PPE, we have delivered novel safety devices that are aimed at providing another barrier against SARS-CoV-2 and other biological hazards. Working with emergency room doctors, we manufactured and delivered five intubation shields to MSMH. These shields allow the healthcare professionals to manage airways of patients with a reduced risk of virus transmission.  These went into immediate use upon delivery.

Zach Stachelczyk uses the laser cutter to manufacture shield frames.

growingSTEMS is grateful for the assistance received to continue this initiative, especially for all the incredibly hard working individuals keeping production flowing.  We couldn’t do this without you.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

We are also grateful to all the local companies and families that have contributed to our ability to acquire parts and supplies.  And a special shout out to Rotary Club for working with the hospital on a grant to keep this initiative on a solid foundation. 

Finally to our health care professionals … thank you for taking care of us.

This has truly been a community effort, and we’re proud to provide our medical heroes with anything they need in this challenging time.