RICHMOND, Ind. – A global shortage of Personal Protective Equipment that was putting thousands of healthcare workers at great risk has led to an “Apollo 13 moment” at a Richmond plastics company – and major relief to Reid Health’s clinical staff on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The new virus outbreak worldwide, along with panic buying and hoarding, left health systems dangerously ill-equipped to care for new patients due to limited supplies of gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields and gowns. So in what company officials are calling their own “Apollo 13 moment,” Primex Plastics is already making two different kinds of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that Reid Health officials say will greatly enhance their ability to protect staff during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
In a series of almost miraculous circumstances, Primex developed, designed and scheduled mass production – all in just two days – of face shields to be used with special protective helmets at Reid that protect staff dealing with contagious airborne disease. As word spread, the company is also ramping up production to help other healthcare providers.
“We can’t overstate the positive impact this will have on our team members on the frontlines in facing this outbreak, especially when our heroes are from our own community,” said Craig Kinyon, Reid Health President/CEO. He said the production of these shields will greatly enhance the safety of his team. “We have to protect our team or we risk not having people to care for patients. The team at Primex truly stepped up on our behalf – and with unbelievable speed.”
Scott Rauch, Reid Health Vice President, cited “an amazing” series of events that led to Primex getting involved. Brent Cotter, who is a manager in the Material Services department at Reid that deals with supplies, suggested this past Sunday the idea of asking if a local plastics company could help with the shortage of shields. Rauch happens to attend a Bible study with Dale Blunk, who works in inside sales at Primex. Rauch reached out Sunday evening.
Doug Borgsdorf, Business Unit Director, who runs the division that is making the shields, said his team from production and design took Reid’s sample and gathered samples of other products. “We took all the things we have in our building that we make, threw them on the table and said ‘here it is: our Apollo 13.'”
After a few tries with design, the shield for the helmets was ready. As a bonus, another prototype that doesn’t involve a helmet was also created. Reid Health liked it so well they ordered a supply of them too. After 1,000 of the first shield is produced and delivered, they will produce the second one soon after. The second one will alleviate a shortage of goggles by providing eye protection and also protect the masks under it, allowing them to be used longer and conserve a limited supply.
As news has spread on social media, Borgsdorf said Primex is getting numerous requests from other hospitals and health systems, and is now on track to make 100,000 shields.
PHOTO CAPTION: This is an example of the plastic shield Primex was able to develop in two days.