Midwestern University Helping Address PPE Shortages

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April 16, 2020 | Midwestern University

Midwestern University is proud to be working to assist first responders in the Glendale, Arizona Fire and Police Departments. Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern University, said that it is only fitting that the University works to serve those in the City of Glendale who have been such loyal partners in the more than 25 years that Midwestern has been part of the community. “Our friends in Glendale, especially the Fire and Police Departments, have always been there for us whenever we need them at any time,” Dr. Goeppinger said. “We are privileged to have the opportunity to come through for them in this challenging time.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge Federal, state, and local resources, Midwestern University faculty and staff are turning to technology to help first responder organizations and healthcare professionals build up their stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The University has undertaken an effort to produce reusable plastic face shields.

Matthew Kaiser, Systems Developer at Midwestern’s Downers Grove Campus Information Technology Department, originally coordinated production of the shields with the University’s COVID-19 Response Team for use in the University’s community clinics and for others in need. The shields are built around a 3D-printed headband frame with protective transparent laminate. They provide complete protection from aerosol spray and can either be cleaned or quickly rebuilt with fresh laminate.

“I read about the efforts of others in the 3D printing community and decided we could offer assistance. I’ve been working in conjunction and under the direction of Midwestern University’s COVID-19 Response Team, which has greater visibility into the needs in and around our community,” Mr. Kaiser said. “Over a period of a week and a half, 30 face shields have been printed on my own and the Anatomy Lab’s printer. I continued to make more, quicker, and just today made 10 face shields for the Downers Grove Fire Department. I have a handful more that are just waiting for a need that I or others can find,” he added.

Tamer Elbayoumi, Ph.D., M.Sc., Associate Professor at the Midwestern University College of Pharmacy-Glendale, volunteered to coordinate efforts and resources at the University’s Glendale Campus to begin producing the face shields. Dr. Elbayoumi has enlisted the use of 3D printers on campus as well as his own printer at home to produce the face shields.

The University is providing the shields at no cost. Phoenix Firefighter Captain Austin Moreland, a member of Arizona’s statewide COVID-19 task force, welcomes the assistance from Midwestern University. “Public safety in the Valley is absolutely in a time of concern and need,” he said. “We would be grateful for any masks that we can get our hands on. We not only need N95 masks to wear on calls, but we also need PPE for patients and family members while we are in the public and while we are at our stations.”

Dr. Elbayoumi is also working on finding materials for other PPE resources, such as a reusable and sterilizable 3D-printed mask design that can fit either a 3M surgical mask filter media or N95 filter media. “I can make up to 10 face shields per day with the help of my daughters and lab technicians,” Dr. Elbayoumi said. “I’m currently working on recruiting a few friends and colleagues with similar 3D printers, using my working design files, to volunteer and make more shields too. Hopefully, the number of involved volunteer makers will increase over the next week. We are in this fight together. We’ll use any of our available resources and technologies to support and protect our first responders on the frontlines.”

The Midwestern University community continues to work with local agencies to find ways to be helpful throughout the COVID-19 crisis. “Through the efforts of Dr. Elbayoumi, Matt Kaiser, and others, we are engaging all our departments with 3D printers to join together to help the men and women who protect us each day with additional PPE,” said Dr. Goeppinger.  “As a healthcare community, we have many resources to help others, as seen in this positive endeavor. The faculty, staff, and students in the Midwestern University community continue to make me very proud.”

Firefighter Chris Greene of the Glendale Fire Department takes delivery of PPE shields from Dr. Kathleen Goeppinger, President and CEO of Midwestern University. 

Tamer Elbayoumi, M.Sc., Ph.D. (right) is working with others to provide 3D printed face shields to local agencies.  

The Midwestern University community is part of a nationwide effort to provide Personal Protective Equipment to those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.