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Trinity Health issues call for 3D masks and face shields

Trinity Health in Minot is reaching out to anyone with a 3D printer to shore up supplies of medical face masks and face shields.

Medical facilities across the country are scrambling to prevent looming shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

One solution that has emerged is 3D printed masks and face shields.

“Many people across Trinity Health’s service area have contacted the organization, offering to sew material into masks, print 3D masks or face shields, and offer other assistance,” said Randy Schwan, vice president of Mission Integration. “After researching alternatives and exploring different patterns and designs, Trinity Health has adopted a policy approving donations of 3D printed masks and face shields. We hope the 3D printing community will step forward to print and donate masks and shields.”

Erica Erck, RN, Trinity’s cardiac program coordinator, led the team that researched the 3D masks. She says she learned about them through a Minot Public School teacher, who put her in contact with Jeremy Almond, whose facebook page, “ND 3D Printed Medical Masks,” has become a clearinghouse for 3D mask information. Her team obtained specifications online thanks to a group of Billings, Mont., doctors. From there, it was a matter of tweaking the specifications and developing a policy for distributing and using the masks.

Erck said she’s highly encouraged by the discovery. “This is going to be game-changing for us and for other medical facilities,” Erck said. “We’ll use them as a bridge to ensure that we have enough masks to ride out this pandemic. Plus, the face shields can be wiped down, so we’ll be getting many uses.”

According to Schwan, the intent of the 3D mask at this time is to utilize them in place of a surgical mask, not a respirator-type N95 mask. He notes that Trinity Health is also grateful for people who are sewing cloth surgical-type masks, which may continue to be dropped off at Ward County Emergency Management, located in the Ward County Courthouse.

For information or questions about 3D masks and face shields, people may visit ND 3D Printed Medical Masks on facebook or Trinity’s website, https://www.trinityhealth.org/3DPPE.

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