COURTESY OF TIM WEBER
“Makers” of the Palouse united over a Facebook page to make medical supplies for local hospitals during the shortage of personal protective equipment caused by COVID-19.
Palouse Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) is a chapter of a global group, Pauseibilities owner Shishona Turner said, a laser cutting business in Moscow.
“Seeing everything that was popping up around Moscow, Pullman and the Palouse area, and realizing that we needed to be working together … that’s what led to creating and organizing our Palouse chapter,” Turner said.
Members of the group are making plastic face shields, cloth masks, intubation boxes and ear savers, Turner said. When a patient is put on a ventilator, healthcare workers use intubation boxes, which are plastic chambers with arm holes. They cover the patient and protect themselves from droplets. Ear savers are small strips of plastic, cloth or silicon that pull mask straps to the back of the head to prevent the straps from rubbing on ears.
Tim Weber, a teacher and STEM coach, and James Finkbeiner are part of the effort in Lewis Clark Valley. Weber said they are working with a team in Pullman to 3-D print face shields and are making up to 50 per day.
“We’re running our printers hard,” Weber said.
Everyone involved in the maker movement is donating their own supplies and they are not receiving funding from other sources, Weber said.
Kenny Bonnefin, a Moscow resident who works at Moscow Building Supply, said he reached out to Gritman Medical Center to see what supplies they needed.
Seeing there was a shortage of N95 masks, Bonnefin worked to make an alternative to the N95 using furnace filters.
“At this point, nobody has enough [N95 masks], regardless of how many they have,” Bonnefin said. “There’s always another way to do things, and it’s amazing how much you can find at a hardware store to fill a need like this.”
Turner said she is also hoping to get local breweries, wineries and distilleries to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizer for local hospitals.
“The innovation that’s coming out of this is amazing,” Turner said.
She said they are trying not to overwhelm medical facilities with help and that the Facebook group has helped makers channel information about who is supplying what.
“It’s very inspiring to see the maker community across the globe come together and collaborate,” Turner said. “It doesn’t matter about politics or religion or race or anything like that — it’s all about serving the community.”