The news is rife with stories about personal protective equipment (PPEs) being in short supply for the medical community. Masks, gloves and gowns are literal lifesavers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those supplies can also be found in abundance in collegiate research laboratories but at Hope, not any more. Much of the college’s PPE stock has been donated to area hospitals.
Dr. Jeffrey Johnson of the chemistry department, Dr. Brian Rider of the kinesiology department, and Lori Hertel of the biology department have delivered dozens of cases of masks, gowns, safety glasses, gloves and hair coverings from the various Hope labs to Holland Community Hospital as well as Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“Once we transferred over to online instruction, it was obvious that health professionals would need this equipment long before our students,” said Johnson. “I’m just thankful for the faculty and departments across campus who so willingly donated their supplies.”
Even before the CDC declared that homemade masks would be helpful protection during the pandemic, Kristin Underhill ’95 of the art department began churning out cloth facemasks to aid front-liners. To date, she estimated she’s made more than 150.
“They’ve gone as far as a research team printing masks in Missouri to a clinic in Wisconsin. And most are Hope connected,” she said. “My freshman year roomie messaged me and said her husband is the only doctor at a clinic in Wisconsin and said ‘please send masks.’ I sent some to Chicago for my junior year roomie’s husband who is a first responder. And I did send a couple to my brother in Cincinnati who is a manager at a Meijer on the front lines stocking and restocking and cleaning his store.”
“But my desktop computer from Hope is in the same room as my ironing board and sewing machine, so it’s literally the home office and a production line,” Underhill added. “I can’t get some supplies fast enough it seems.”
Adam Peckens of the engineering department set up two of the department’s tabletop 3D printers in his basement after the Michigan governor issued a stay-at-home order effective Tuesday, March 24, thus closing down all of Hope’s campus. The printers are now linked to the #3Dc19 coalition, a group of individuals, businesses, and organizations that have 3D printing capabilities to create components for ventilators, reusable masks and face shields.
Hope’s 3D printers are running support brackets for face shields, creating about 20 a day that then will be attached to the clear part of shields which are supplied by another organization.
“This is a pretty expansive network of individuals, and I was introduced to it by my colleague in the engineering department, Susan Ipri Brown,” said Peckens. “She is also supporting this endeavor in other ways.”
“I manage a non-profit called The Little Stuff Fund that helps with small community projects, and I was asked to partner with this non-profit coalition in order to raise funds,” Ipri Brown said. “Many companies and individuals are giving their time and effort to printing these components. The fund raising that I’m managing is paying for the raw materials and shipping costs that these volunteers are using to make and deliver the parts.”
If you know of others in the Hope community who are serving those on front lines of this crisis, please let us know. Leave a comment on this Keeping Hope blog post.