Queen’s University medical students have started fashioning personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health-care workers in Kingston’s hospitals in light of shortages created by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Kingston Health Sciences Centre tweeted out a public plea for donations of PPE on Tuesday morning.
The tweet called for masks, gowns and other related items.
Dr. Kieran Moore, KFL&A Public Health’s chief medical officer, confirmed to Global News that supplies are limited in the region.
“We continue to ask our partners how much in store they have, and it’s roughly a week’s worth at present,” Moore said.
Moore also said COVID-19 testing kits are in short supply.
Queen’s University medical students Cesia Quintero, Matt Snow and Megan Singh have started to do what they can to address the shortage.
Working with the Queen’s School of Medicine and Kingston General Hospital, they’ve managed to get 32 3D printers to help create masks and face shields.
Quintero says the 3D printers have come from various university departments and other locations, including St. Lawrence College and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
“We have over a dozen individual community members from Kingston who have their own printers that are working for us a few of them in other parts of the province as well,” Quintero said.
Production is now underway, with the final hurdle in the effort recently cleared, according to the Queen’s med student.
“We’ve had the prototypes approved by infection control at KGH, and so we’re printing masks and face shields. The masks will be used as replacements for surgical masks,” Quinteros explained.
Quintero says a mask takes a 3D printer about six hours to make, while a shield takes about eight hours.
“We’re working on hundreds of orders that we have already both for community clinics and for KGH,” Quintero said.
Meeting that demand also requires volunteers, Quintero told Global news.
“We’re also assembling a small army of volunteers to help us assemble the equipment because there’s quite a bit of assembling that needs to happen once they come off the printer,” Quintero explained.
Since originally speaking with Global Kingston, Quintero says another 16 3D printers have been added to the number of devices now making PPE.
For those who want to donate to help fund the cause, the students have started a GoFundMe.
For those who wish to help, surplus PPE can be donated to KGH by contacting Maryanne.takala@3SO.ca.
Donations to Kingston community clinics via KFL&A Public Health by contacting Anna Curry at PPEKingston@gmail.com.
Those who have 3D printers or 3D-printing experience and wish to contribute to the Queen’s med students’ efforts can contact email@example.com.