THUNDER BAY – A group of health care and engineering students from across northern Ontario is looking for the public’s support in their efforts to help health care workers in the fight against COVID-19.
The group, calling themselves Northern Ontario #PPEforHCP (personal protective equipment for health care providers), has already relocated over 20,000 items of PPE, such as gloves and N95 masks, to health care institutions. They’ve also raised thousands of dollars to pay for shipping of donated supplies and materials to 3D print PPE.
Northern Ontario #PPEforHCP consists of over 130 students in the health care and engineering fields from across northern Ontario, from Muskoka to Kenora.
“Frontline healthcare providers are our friends, families, teachers, and our future, which is why we decided to lend them a helping hand,” the group says.
They’ve done so primarily in two ways: by encouraging PPE donations and redistributing them to frontline workers, and by engaging those with 3D printers to produce face shields and other supplies.
Their #MakeTheList campaign, supported by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, challenges local businesses to donate existing PPE like face shields, eye protection, disposable gloves, and respirator masks for distribution to local healthcare facilities. Companies that donate will be featured on the campaign’s website and receive coverage through social media.
Several companies – such as LTL Construction, TBT Engineering, Ontario Clean Water Agency, Derek Blunt Contracting, Canadian Tire, Thunder Bay Hydro, and Hamm Home Renovations – have already donated.
The group is also working with a small network of institutions with access to 3D printers to create face shields and ear savers for health workers. Producers include the Thunder Bay COVID-19 Community Resources Group, Michael Polling, Lakehead University Engineering, Lakehead’s Paterson Library, Ingenuity Makerspaces, and the Lakehead University Center for the Application of Resource Information Systems (LU-CARIS). Intercity Industrial has chipped in with a safe drop-off location where products are quality controlled, inventoried, and distributed.
The group says it has delivered nearly 300 face shields to five local clinics in the past week. They’re looking to boost production significantly, but say cost for materials has become a limiting factor. The shields cost about two dollars each to produce and are provided to health care facilities free of cost.
Members of the public can donate through the group’s GoFundMe page, which as of Sunday had raised around $3,000. Transparent acetate sheets, used in 3D printing, can also be donated at Lowerys. Those looking to learn more or join the group can do so at their website.