Ontario Students' 3D Shields Are Protecting Frontline Health Workers From COVID-19

Incredible effort from the GTHA's student community.
Ontario Personal Protective Equipment Is Being Given To Frontline Health Staff By Students

Students are taking charge when it comes to providing aid to provincial frontline staff. As the province faces difficulties with the level of demand for Ontario personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, university students in the GTHA are 3D printing face shields to help ease the shortage of PPE. Medical and health students from the University of Toronto and McMaster have teamed up to help our health care workers fighting COVID-19.

Right now in Ontario, we need all the feelgood news we can get.

And this group of students has partnered up with local businesses and donors to create 3D printed face shields for hospitals and clinics in the GTA, including Hamilton and Niagara regions as well.

Narcity spoke to a member of the proactive team, which calls itself 3dppegtha on its website and social media, about the group's motivations for the project.

"The shortage of PPE is a major concern during this pandemic," Alex Aliferis, a participating medical student from McMaster told Narcity by email.

"Hospitals are reusing PPE to stretch the supply but that creates an infection risk to workers and patients."

Indeed, despite provincial efforts to quickly create masks as positive cases rise, Ford warned on Monday, April 6 that if a huge shipment of N-95 masks from the U.S didn't go through, the province's frontline health care workers would run out of medical masks in a week.

In the face of these rising concerns, 3dppegtha started this initiative back on March 30.

The group consists of concerned individuals from medicine, law, engineering, and business schools. There are more than 30 core members on the team, along with 40 volunteers with access to 27 active printers and more.

"A number of companies in the United States and Canada have been trying to repurpose equipment to create disposable face shields but the supply is still not enough. As medical students, we decided to step up to the plate," explains Aliferis.

Each face shield only costs them about $2 to create. The group is simply donating them to cities that need them.

"We have printed over 400 face shields for the Michael Garron Hospital, the Markham Stouffville Hospital, and various family health clinics in the GTA, Toronto and Hamilton regions," Aliferis added.

She also revealed that the group has requests for over 8,000 of the shields "from other hospitals and clinics."

That demand might be increasing, too, given that the City of Toronto had to recall over 62,000 poor-quality masks from long-term care homes on Tuesday, April 7.

[rebelmouse-image 25976692 photo_credit="3D PPE for GTHA | Handout" expand=1 original_size="3024x4032"]

According to their website, the model they are using, designed by Swedish 3D experts 3DVerkstan, has already gone under review in clinical testing by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (NIH). It passed the test for recommended use.

The design has also been tested and approved by healthcare staff all over the world. Its current users include staff at Kingston General Hospital staff in Kingston, Ont., where hundreds are in use.

The team has also set up a GoFundMe page and has already received over $5,000 to purchase needed materials to make many more of the face shields.

And you can even get involved from home.

For those who happen to have a 3D printer lying around, the site also has instructions on how to help create these shields and want to support them on this great initiative.

If printing isn't something you're able to do, the group is still looking for volunteers to help them crowdsource printers, materials, pick up the printed equipment, sterilize and drop it off at the hospitals and clinics that they are supporting at the moment.

So, if you've been looking for a way to get involved in supporting frontline healthcare staff, now you know how you can.

In times of crisis, Ontarians rally together.

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