Educators from SUNY Oswego are meeting a critical need during the COVID-19 pandemic by producing protective face shields for healthcare workers and first responders in Oswego County, NY.
SUNY Oswego faculty members Daniel Tryon of technology education and David Dunn of biological sciences partnered with Tracy Fleming of the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation (CiTi BOCES) to start production in late March. They all had similar ideas to help and joined forces.
They developed 60 face shields with an original prototype. Then the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Veterans Healthcare Administration and America Makes, posted suggestions for 3D printers that encouraged builders to include a roof on the top of shields, Tryon noted.
“I decided to turn over the 60 that we had to Tracy so he could take them to the local group that approved them, but to completely switch production here to the new design,” Tryon said. “This latest version is fantastic. This is a model that has actually been clinically tested by NIH.”
The team produced 185 shields as of April 1 but continue to ramp up production.
“The 3D printers are the slowest process but we have more than doubled production rates so far and should be able to produce about 93 per day going forward,” Tryon said.
On the SUNY Oswego campus, Tryon is using 3D printers in Park Hall’s technology lab to print the frames, and is cutting lenses out of polycarbonate. Dunn then takes the parts to finish and sterilize them in ovens in a Shineman Center lab.
“I am participating in the design and testing process to produce shields that will provide maximum protection while being easy to use,” Dunn said. “I will also be disinfecting and packaging shields prior to their being sent out for use.”
Fleming, a SUNY Oswego graduate and data coordinator for CiTi BOCES, was instrumental in starting the project and partnering with the Oswego County Health Department. He also has been working tirelessly on fabricating shields as well.
CiTi BOCES has allowed the use of its 3-D printer and laser cutter to assist with the production of the face shields and the organization now has cross-collaboration with neighboring counties.
“We are partnering with another facility that is actually all the way out in Auburn,” Fleming said. “The facility is the ‘maker space’ belonging to Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES.” Fleming said it is his hope to use a CNC router to cut shields in stacks for a more efficient process.
The ones being made at SUNY Oswego are being shared with the Oswego County Emergency Management office for dissemination to healthcare and first responder agencies, as well as to on-campus Health Services, University Police and the college’s agricultural and testing analysis laboratory at the Port of Oswego Authority.
“We’ve been working with the health department and some other healthcare providers, and they seem to really like it,” Tryon said.
Local industry partners Exelon and Novelis have stepped up to help with production. Exelon is providing 18 face shields per day, and growing, Tryon said, while Novelis has helped with providing filament.
Since SUNY Oswego had already produced protective face shields with CiTi BOCES, Exelon and Novelis, Katie Pagliaroli, RN, Director of Quality and Patient Safety for Oswego Health, turned to Tryon once again to see if SUNY Oswego could possibly assist with the ventilator shortage.Tryon was up for the challenge so Pagliaroli introduced him to Oswego Health’s Director of Respiratory Therapy, Kristina Marks, RRT, BS.
After a few phone calls and exchanging pictures of ventilator adaptors, Tryon materialized a prototype within 24 hours for Oswego Hospital. Marks then ran the prototype through a test lung simulation, which quickly passed and proved operational. Tryon then produced 30 tee connectors and delivered them to the hospital. Each ventilator requires two connectors, so potentially 30 patients can be vented simultaneously.
“These adaptors will assist us to further our preparedness to take care of even more critically ill patients should we need to,” stated Marks. “We are so grateful for our partnership with SUNY Oswego and their continued innovation and commitment to this community.”
All participants appreciate the opportunity to help those working on the front lines of battling the pandemic.
“It’s been widely reported that healthcare resources are stretched extremely thin in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dunn said. “Personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, are among the equipment facing critical shortages. While we hope and expect that nationwide production of medical equipment will soon ramp up, we felt that in the interim, we could help to fill the gap.”
Submitted by Operation Oswego County, Inc. on behalf of its community partners.