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UHS inventors hand-making thousands of face shields

March 27, 2020

Face-shield production team member Dianne Deschamps, OR,
UHS Wilson, organizes materials for the assembly of 
the UHS
-made shields in the project’s pop-up shop. The 
team hopes to
make thousands of shields for use by UHS clinical staff in the
care of patients during the COVID-19 emergency.

An incredibly inventive team of UHS employees has begun producing and distributing face shields for UHS clinical departments that need them during the COVID-19 emergency. The amazing endeavor to locate materials and set up a production method at UHS Hospitals to create the protective shields has been dubbed “UHS FacePro Inc.” by UHS President John Carrigg.

The generating of a creative idea and the planning and production that have gone into the face shield-making effort is outlined in a description provided by a key leader of the project, Tina Dolan, PMP, director of Public Policy & Program Development at UHS. She has reported to UHS News Online:

“This all started when I received a text a week ago from John Carrigg asking me to seriously explore making our own face shields. The day before, he had shown me an article about a hospital on the West Coast that was doing the same thing.
“When I saw a sample that morning of the face shields that we currently get from suppliers, I was surprised at how simple they looked to make. The shield is essentially a piece of plastic, a piece of foam and a piece of elastic. By 5 p.m. that day, we had a prototype made! Through some research and phone calls to the West Coast, we found out that Providence St. Joseph's in Washington state was using 20-gauge marine vinyl to make their shields.

“We tried to track some material down locally and even drove to Cortland to get samples” and pursued another possibility with a marine vinyl supplier on Long Island, “but the material would have been hard to work with. We wanted to see if we could find something better. We began exploring other options that mirrored more closely the materials that made up the sample face shield. Through brainstorming with UHS team members Blaine Olmsted, Patti Smith and Pravin Jadhav, we realized that the material is very similar to the old transparencies teachers used to use.

“And then the ah-ha moment came: the material was a lot like the clear plastic covers of the “UHS Operating Plan” that is printed annually. Patti Smith worked with Vaulda Bruce in the UHS Xerox Print Shop, who, on her day off, worked to find and order the materials. Patti found a local printing company, Curcio Printing, that would cut the plastic to our specifications for free. Pravin Jadhav discovered that one-inch foam weatherseal would work at the top of the shield to push it out an adequate distance from someone’s face, and we tested it with glasses and without to make sure that it would be wide enough. UHS employee Dan Clark worked on getting those materials from Home Depot. New York State Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo stepped up to help us find elastic at JoAnn Fabrics.

“The next step was finding a space and people to assemble the shields. In the Command Center on Sunday, UHS leadership team members Mitzi Sherba and Rich Keehle helped identify empty space next to the Sleep Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. AJ VanNostrand and his Security team helped get tables, chairs, storage bins, staplers, scissors and rulers to that location. Environmental Services is helping with garbage and recycling” at our new shop. Our newly established Clinical Resource Office is helping find staff to assemble the shields. Our auditor, Jeff Gnad, has stepped up to become our face shield production manager. He’s making sure that we have the product and people and that the shields are picked up and processed so that they can be put into use.

“Waiting for delivery of supplies has really been the test of patience and is our ultimate limiting factor. It seems like a lifetime ago that this all started, but it’s been less than a week. Production began March 26 and we had enough materials on hand to complete 667 face shields the first day. If elastic deliveries arrive as expected, we can make an additional 4,200 face shields by about April 3. Our ultimate goal is to have 18,000 shields in-house. Blaine’s team has ordered additional shields from a local company that is also hand-making them based on our prototype. Depending on the timing of all this, we may be able to stop our in-house production or we may continue. In the meantime, John Carrigg has named our pop-up workshop “UHS FacePro Inc.”

Other UHS team members who have been involved in and contributing time and talent to the endeavor are:

  • Rick Boland
  • Annie DePugh
  • Rich Fabian
  • Kerrie Fisher
  • Rob Mack
  • Sri Poranki, PhD
  • Ann Teng, DO

Tina noted that “a lot of people are coming together here to make this work. It’s a silver lining to all that is going on here. I’m really proud to work with innovative people who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our teams healthy and well. #teamUHS!”