Local businesses pivot to medical supplies for fight against COVID-19 img

Local businesses pivot to medical supplies for fight against COVID-19

Local businesses in Massachusetts are pivoting resources, equipment and their core missions to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration recently started a new initiative and $10 million in funding to support manufacturers’ efforts to pivot production operations to produce personal protective equipment and other critical devices, such as ventilators, sanitizers and thermometers. That comes after state officials called on the manufacturing sector to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, and the sector stepped up in spades.

  • GatherHere, an art supply store in Cambridge, has designed a one-piece mask that a filter could be inserted into and that is an accessible pattern for beginner and intermediate stitchers. The store has been selling out of masks and recently said on its Instagram page that 100 more masks will be available on April 20.
  • A group of faculty members, lab technicians and staff at Wentworth Institute of Technology is producing face shields for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its epic fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing the institute had 3-D printers and laser cutters on campus, the Wentworth group began meeting virtually about three weeks ago to hatch the plan to alleviate a critical need for personal protective equipment or PPE at area hospitals.
  • Harpoon Brewery is teaming up with Salem, Mass.-based Deacon Giles to join the fight against COVID-19 by producing and distributing hand sanitizer for workers on the frontlines. Initial shipments have been donated to Boston YMCAs in order to support the emergency childcare centers open to essential workers. Current and future shipments of the hand sanitizer are also being shared with the Boston Resiliency Fund.
  • Several of the world’s ventilator manufacturers have formed a Ventilator Training Alliance and partnered with Allego in Needham to create a mobile app that frontline medical providers can use to access a centralized repository of ventilator training resources. Dräger, GE Healthcare, Getinge, Hamilton Medical, Medtronic, Nihon Kohden and Philips have joined this humanitarian training coalition. The VTA app connects respiratory therapists, nurses and other medical professionals with ventilator training resources from alliance member companies, including instructional how-to videos, manuals, troubleshooting guides, and other ventilator-operation expertise critical to helping responders treat patients suffering from COVID-19-related respiratory distress.
  • Leominster-based manufacturing company AIS is donating purchased masks and dedicating a line of workers to making masks in their manufacturing facility. At this time, the company is manufacturing approximately 200 masks per day but expects that number to increase each day going forward. To date, the company has donated 1,000 masks to UMass Medical Center in Worcester and 1,000 masks to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
  • FLEXcon in Spencer, Mass. realized their equipment could quickly be transformed to make disposable face shields for healthcare workers and within 36 hours, the company created a shield that protects the face, eyes, mouth and nose from droplets, aerosols, sprays and splatters. Once local healthcare workers asked for assistance with personal protection equipment, employees rallied to design, prototype, test, and create assembly instructions, as well as, give the product a name, design a logo, packaging and a website. Just two days later they delivered and donated the first 2,000 shields, to several local hospitals and businesses for testing. FLEXcon aims to donate 1 million shields and has already donated 20,000 to more than 50 different organizations including UMass Memorial, Mass General and Baystate Medical Center. The company is ramping up production and aiming to develop 50,000 per day.
  • Dean’s Beans in Orange, Mass., a self-described “social justice” company that uses coffee to create positive change around the world, is donating a 1,000 pounds of freshly roasted, organic coffee to those whose jobs and livelihoods have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and thousands of tin ties that can be sewn into face masks to protect workers on the frontlines of the food and healthcare industries.
  • PanFab, a Harvard-MIT affiliated pandemic fabrication lab led by volunteer medical professionals, engineers, scientists and graduate students, has made the designs for face shields freely available on their website. Brigham and Women’s hospital recently started using PanFab’s face shields when dealing with COVID-19 patients.
  • MasksOn.org, a physician-led nonprofit founded to design, manufacture and donate high-quality emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, launched a funding drive to raise an additional $3 million over the next two weeks. The MasksOn.org Reusable Mask Kit is a durable and sanitizable emergency PPE made by adapting recreational snorkel masks to connect to bacterial/viral filters already used in hospitals. All funds raised will go directly to producing and donating an additional 70,000+ mask kits to frontline healthcare professionals in intensive care units and emergency rooms across the nation where they are needed.
  • Sciessent, a provider of antimicrobial (AM) solutions based on controlled delivery, with corporate headquarters, development center and labs in Beverly, Mass., is playing an important role in the manufacturing sector’s push to solve the PPE/masks shortage. Leading manufacturers are incorporating Sciessent’s Agion® antimicrobial solution into about 700 million masks designed for use in healthcare facilities.
  • Massachusetts is the second state to receive donation deliveries from Nike, Inc.’s Air MI production of full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses with the first shipment of products received at Boston Medical Center (full-face shields and PAPR lenses) and Carney Hospital (full-face shields) and additional full-face shield shipments en route to BMC, Carney and Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Lovepop in Boston is using its facilities to manufacture face shields. The maker of 3D greeting cards will be able to create up to 40,000 face shields each day, co-founder and CEO Wombi Rose told BostInno.
  • Procter & Gamble has rapidly begun making and delivering face shields needed by hospital workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional production is happening in South Boston, at the headquarters of P&G’s Gillette razor and shave gel brand, which is working in collaboration of the Mass Technology Collaborative.
  • Local tailor Heidi Waddell and her friend Julia Swartz, a licensed social worker at Compass Medical, had activated 50 individuals through word of mouth and a “Mission Masks” Facebook page to sew hundreds of masks.
  • Brooks Brothers, which bills itself as the oldest retailer in the U.S., is converting three factories, including one in Massachusetts, into medical supplies production facilities.
  • At least 14 marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts have agreed to make hand sanitizer as part of efforts to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Temescal Wellness, a life cannabis company, is joining other brands by producing and donating 30 gallons of hand sanitizer to the Hudson Fire Department tomorrow. In addition to the Hudson Fire Department, Temescal also made a donation to the city of Worcester earlier this month, and is encouraging local businesses and organizations to reach out if they are in need.
  • Ayr, multi-state cannabis operator with a production and manufacturing facility and dispensaries in Massachusetts, is producing and donating hand sanitizer in partnership with the local authorities at all of their manufacturing facilities. Its Massachusetts brand, Sira Naturals, completed the first batch of hand sanitizer on 4/7 and aims to produce 50 gallons per week depending on the availability of raw material.
  • NFI Corp. (also known as Nameplates for Industry), a New Bedford-based graphic services firm specializing in printing on plastic, and its sister company Design Mark Industries, recently launched a new product category: Personal Protective Equipment and Safety Gear. First items available in the line are disposable face shields for health care professionals, with the companies aiming to produce 40,000 pieces per week. NFI had previously broadened its portfolio with products focused on the COVID-19 battle including wall graphics and social distancing floor signage.
  • Samantha Shih and her team at 9Tailors in Boston started the Making the Thread Count initiative upon notice of a region-wide lockdown brought on by COVID-19. Suddenly not being able to provide premier hand-crafted custom suits, Shih looked for what it is that she can do instead: continually employ local tailors and seamstresses to fabricate cloth masks. To financially jump-start this project, New England Design and Construction, a fellow local business donated $1,000 to provide all necessary materials.
  • Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George owns Stitch House, a yarn and fabric store in Dorchester, that has made more than 1,000 masks in for the Boston Area Mask Initiative.
  • Honeywell has begun the production of N95 face masks in Smithfield, R.I. These masks will be supplied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Strategic National Stockpile to support health, safety and emergency response workers.
  • F.B. Washburn Candy in Brockton is producing candy for a company in Ohio that is creating meal packs for relief associations and efforts during covid-19.
  • Rockport, a Newton-based shoe brand, is donating 5,000 pairs of sneakers and walking shoes to first responders in order for them to have something clean and comfortable to change into when they return home from work. The donation is part of Rockport’s “Responders in Motion” initiative.
  • College of the Holy Cross students and siblings Mary Anne and Paul Wiley are designing, producing and donating face shields to local healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus. The concept came about after finding out that their parents, both healthcare workers in New Hampshire, had fallen ill with the coronavirus having lacked the needed PPE.