In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, community organizations throughout the North Country have come together using the tools they have to assist medical personnel who are working to save lives. Area school districts and Jefferson-Lewis BOCES are joining in those efforts. The Jefferson County ACES Gymnasium at the Watertown campus has become an assembly line as volunteers work together to produce face shields to be donated to local hospitals and other medical facilities.
The community effort to manufacture PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for North Country health care workers started with New York State Senator Patty Ritchie. Her office reached out to local businesses, schools and individuals with access to 3D printers. From there, a Face Shield Committee was formed that included numerous organizations such as BCA Architects & Engineers, New York Air Brake, The Car-Freshner Corporation, Northern Glass, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Jefferson Community College, BOCES and numerous local school districts.
The manufacturing began March 31 with over 550 face shields produced. The eventual goal is 1000 face shields for Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown. Plans are in place to build more as needed for other health care providers that request them.
Local school districts have assisted by utilizing their 3D printers to produce the visors needed for the face shields. “Schools have many of these printers available. They have been a big partner in helping us meet our goal,” according to Mari Cecil, Principal at BCA Architects & Engineers in Watertown and Community Coordinator for the committee.
Contributing schools include Alexandria, Carthage, General Brown, Gouvernuer, Indian River, Lowville, Lyme, Sackets Harbor and Watertown. BOCES programs such as Engineering & Design in Lewis County and Architecture, Engineering & 3D Design in Jefferson County also utilized their 3D printers. The combined effort provided nearly 600 of the visors needed for the face shields. All the printers used the same specs, making sure that the visors are consistent and meet guidelines.
Health care providers interested in acquiring the face shields can contact Mari Cecil at cmari@TheBCGroup.com.
“We need to support our health care workers and first responders,” says Mari. “They are the ones working on the front lines to protect us.”
Mari Cecil displays some of the face shields produced by the volunteers.