Section: News

Health Care Workers and Physical Therapists Construct Face Shields


Hospitals Taking an Innovative Approaches to Conserve Protective Personal Equipment

Due to increased worldwide demand and manufacturing issues due to the spread of COVID-19, hospitals across the country are facing a shortage of medical supplies (such as masks, gowns and gloves) known as personal protective equipment (PPE).

Providence St. Joseph Health’s supply chain team has been working tirelessly to obtain PPE by every means possible, including placing large orders with suppliers and applying for supplies from the National Emergency Stockpile. In addition, our hospitals are also taking innovative approaches to ensure our caregivers are protected and can care for patients safely, including constructing their own face shields.

Medical staff wear face shields over face masks while treating patients to protect against flying respiratory droplets that can transmit coronavirus, such as from coughs and sneezes. Queen of the Valley currently has a sufficient supply of face shields. In fact, California’s Office of Emergency Services’ delivered approximately 5,000 face shields to Queen of the Valley on March 31. However, to prepare in the event the hospital begins to run low, a team of physical therapists decided to construct their own.

On April 1 and 2, a team of eight staff members at Queen of the Valley assembled 413 face shields using off-the-shelf materials: marine-grade vinyl, industrial tape, foam, and elastic. Some supplies were purchased at craft stores and Home Depot and regional supply chain leads coordinated the purchase and delivery of many of the bulk supplies. The team used a prototype developed by Providence St. Joseph Health caregivers in Renton, Wash. who assembled hundreds of face shields for Seattle-area hospitals in March. They have enough raw materials on hand to make around 1,000 more, and plan to keep fabricating as long as they can.

The team, led by Mike Smith, manager of the physical therapy department, and Jim Casciani, a retired engineer who worked for Nellcor Puritan Bennett (a medical products company with product lines in respiratory care, etc.) worked in an assembly line fashion in a large conference room in Queen of the Valley’s Wellness Center on campus.

“Since we’re focused on caring for high acuity, post-operative patients during this pandemic, we wanted to do something positive with the time we would have spent helping patients with less acute needs. Especially something that will help protect our nurses and other front-line staff,” said Smith. “Our colleagues in Washington came up with the design and were kind enough to share it. It uses basic materials and common tools. Our great supply chain team was able to procure and coordinate delivery of the supplies, and we set up a mini-factory where we could assemble the shields while still keeping within the social distancing recommendations.”

After they were produced, the face shields were inspected and approved by infection prevention specialists and clinical leaders.

“These face shields will safely protect our caregivers, so they can effectively care for our patients and communities,” said Gianna Peralta, Infection Prevention Manager. “We know that in order to care for our patients, we must ensure the health and safety of caregivers.

In addition to constructing face shields, St. Joseph Health hospitals have been working to conserve other forms of PPE such as N95 masks. Examples include: shifting resources within our Providence St. Joseph Health family of organizations to areas where the need is greatest; accepting donations of new and unused N95 Masks (would prefer 3M 1860 and 1860S, but will accept other brands) or surgical masks (any brand) and more.

“During this unprecedented time, we are pursuing different avenues to augment and conserve our supplies so that we can meet the critical need and support our frontline staff,” said Amy Herold, M.D., chief medical officer. “The health and safety of patients and caregivers are our top priorities. Supply conservation measures are an important step in safeguarding care teams and the people we serve.”

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