UA ENGINEERING CREATES PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR AREA MEDICAL CENTERS

Doctors and nurses are begging for face masks and other personal protective equipment as they’re forced to put their lives in danger during the coronavirus pandemic.

While Jefferson County reported more than 265 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, health care professionals can rest a little easier knowing that help is on the way from Tuscaloosa. Thanks to the University of Alabama’s Productivity Center, nurses and doctors at UAB Hospital will soon be able to better protect themselves.

“We have started making these headbands that’s going to be used for these nurses’ and doctors’ face shield when they’re, hopefully, successfully battling this COVID-19, and we have been running [our machines]day and night, trying to produce as many as we can over the weekend,” Jody Beck, an innovation and productivity engineer at UA, said of the masks.

Light face shields allow doctors and nurses to cover their faces, protecting themselves from being exposed to the disease while they are treating patients. Some of these shields, made at the University of Alabama, will go to UAB Hospital, where the most cases of the coronavirus are being treated.

“I’m very encouraged by the ingenuity and resources of the University of Alabama,” said Richard Friend, Dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences. “It looks like we will be continuing, looking at other options, such as gowns.”

Beck said production is moving quickly and their ambitions will keep rising as the need continues.

“So, Engineering piloted some templates and then began mass production,” Friend said. “And they have enough material for about 1,200 visors, so the delivery of the first 116 came yesterday for us and DCH is committed to 800 visors for them.”

Nurses and doctors at University Medical Center and DCH will also receive personal protective equipment. With 29 cases of coronavirus in Tuscaloosa County, both facilities have a critically low supply.

“We’re also looking at the option to accomplish the N95 mask as well,” Beck said. “With UAB’s need, I think their need at this point is about 450 of these a week. We don’t have the capability of producing that many at this point and so what we really like to do is bring in more resources and we’re working to reach out to our industry partners.”

If you would like to help with some resources, email Beck at jbeck@cba.ua.edu.

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