GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College is using innovation to continue contributing to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
L&C Dean of Career Programs Sue Czerwinski and St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab Manager Tom Whitten saw a need and found a way to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for local healthcare workers and first responders.
With some of the material being donated, the shields cost less than $0.15 each to make, and more than 400 have been donated so far.
“It has been an honor to be able to help out as much as we have for as little cost as we did,” Whitten said. “We’ve been stuck here at home anyway; this was something great to do for morale.”
Whitten and Czerwinski are printing face shields from home using two printers from the Fab Lab and two from the college’s Architectural Technology and Drafting and Design programs.
“We are grateful to Sue and Tom for their quick thinking and eagerness to help our community,” said L&C Board of Trustees Chair David Heyen. “Because of their efforts, healthcare workers and first responders were provided with much-needed PPE. I am sure the impact has been far reaching.”
Whitten researched plans for the mask design and tweaked one to fit L&C's 3D printers, which use plastic filament that is available in the Fab Lab. The screens are the plastic sheets used for report covers, and those were donated to the project.
“We had the backing of our Board,” Czerwinski said. “We also had many people help us connect with hospitals, fire departments, and more, and get the word out for us.”
The most common way COVID-19 is spread is through droplets that transfer from one individual to another when they cough. These face shields help block that transmission and add a layer of protection to the healthcare worker or first responder. Traditional face shields are in short supply, so many facilities were going without. Some of L&C's shields are now also being used in COVID-19 testing centers.
“We are still producing PPE, but not nearly as much,” Czerwinski said. “We have been able to donate to many places in our community. If there is a facility that we missed that is in need, we would be happy to help.”
Whitten and Czerwinski were also able to produce and donate face mask “ear savers.”
“After wearing masks all day long, it is a relief not to have that elastic rubbing on the ear,” Czerwinski said. “We are looking for the next need that we can help with.”
The St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab at Lewis and Clark Community College is a place that exchanges knowledge, ideas and resources to collectively empower people of all ages and backgrounds to experiment and invent new products to solve real world problems at local, national and global levels. Learn more at www.lc.edu/fablab.