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Local Organizations Innovate to Provide Essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Samaritan

Published on: March 31, 2020

WATERTOWN, NY – With COVID-19 causing a nationwide shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at medical facilities, a group of local manufacturing companies, educational institutions and architects are stepping up to produce face shields for healthcare workers at Samaritan.

Face shields are critically important for infection prevention, as they provide full-face protection for healthcare workers. The clear plastic shields can be produced using 3-D printers, and several local organizations have begun dedicating space, materials and talent to make them.

The collaboration was first spearheaded by Senator Patty Ritchie’s office, which saw the need arising at area hospitals and began reaching out to local businesses, schools, and individuals with access to 3-D printers. The Senator’s office successfully pulled together a long list of partners, including representatives from: Alexandria Central School District; BCA Architects & Engineers; Car-Freshner Corporation; Carthage Central School District; General Brown Central School District; Gouverneur Central School District; Indian River Central School District; Jefferson Community College, Jefferson-Lewis BOCES; Lyme Central School District; Lowville Academy and Central School; New York Air Brake; Northern Glass; Sackets Harbor Central School District; and Watertown City School District. Community members David Maxon and Chris Nichols will also use their personal 3-D printers to assist the effort.

Knowlton Technologies has also stepped forward to offer assistance in producing face masks and gowns, two other important pieces of PPE for healthcare staff. The company is currently in the design phase.

Mari L. Cecil, Senior Principal at BCA Architects & Engineers, has taken on the role of community coordinator for these efforts and is working with all representatives to ensure face shields are of consistent quality and can be used by healthcare workers. The group has worked together to share best practices and prototypes.

Volunteers construct face shields to donate to Samaritan.

“We are all connected; many of us have family and friends in the healthcare profession who not only need our support but need additional protective equipment such as the face shields,” Ms. Cecil said. “Without hesitation, we came together. We are honored to be playing a role in this effort to support our local healthcare community during this critical time, and we are also blessed to be working other local businesses and educational groups.”

Ms. Cecil said the team’s goal is to produce 1,000 face shields. Samaritan is grateful to all individuals and businesses that have stepped forward and supported the local healthcare system.

“This community support – from donations being dropped off at the hospital, to the manufacturing innovation of this local group – is incredibly humbling,” said Elizabeth Fipps, Samaritan’s Vice President for the Foundation and Community Services. “We are all trying to do our part to keep our community safe, from outfitting our healthcare workers with needed safety equipment, to social distancing and using proper hygiene. All of these actions will help flatten the curve and keep the North Country safer.”

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