In response to the acute shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers in the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest integrated health care system, and Maker Nexus have designed 3D face shields that are available to the open source community for mass production.
Designed by Kerstin Rosen, MD, a physician with The Permanente Medical Group, and based on a Prusa prototype, the clinician-tested 3D face shields were modified for COVID-19 response with a full visor, adjustable holder, and extended “bubble” shield design that can cover the top of the head. Over the past month, more than 500 members of the maker community, or the tech-influenced do-it-yourself maker movement, have produced and donated 9,000 shields to health care workers across the country.
“Seeing first-hand the concern PPE was causing for my intensive care unit physician and nurse colleagues, I felt a sense of urgency to act fast and fill the gap where the traditional global supply chain could not,” said Dr. Rosen, who is a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center. “That’s when we designed a face shield prototype and then enlisted some of the largest 3D printing organizations and Silicon Valley tech companies to help mass produce face shields and other PPE for health care workers on the front line.”
The face shields take just one minute to 3D print. The maker community is printing more than 600 a day and has plans to introduce injection molding, which will enable them to produce 3,000 to 5,000 face shields per day.
“After California sheltered in place, we had a maker space studio in Silicon Valley, 3D printing equipment, and material all that were not in use,” said Regina Sakols, executive director of Maker Nexus. “That’s when our hundreds of makers consisting of engineers, designers, and tinkerers stepped up to help design and produce the face shields in the fight against COVID-19. The demand has been great, and we still have outstanding requests from hospital systems, doctor’s offices, retirement homes, and rehab centers to produce and donate 30,000 shields.”
Health care workers and first responders rely on PPE to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others. But, according to the World Health Organization, shortages are impacting the ability of the health care system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as effectively as possible.
Securing Protective Equipment
Recognizing the difficulties many health care systems face in securing PPE during this pandemic, Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to ensuring its health care workers have a sufficient quantity of PPE by working with traditional supply chain companies, partnering with non-traditional organizations, and tapping into the open-source 3D community with clinician-tested designs.
“Our physicians, nurses, and other first responders are at the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Smita Rouillard, MD, associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “These face shields help ensure our clinicians have the much-needed personal protective equipment they need to test, treat, and care for our COVID-19 patients.”
Manufacturers and individuals can download the Kaiser Permanente clinician-tested face shield designs for free at https://makernexuswiki.com/wiki/MN_COVID_Response.
In addition to efforts to address the nationwide PPE shortage with the open source community, Kaiser Permanente is participating in the Protecting People Everywhere, a collaborative initiative powered by the HealthEquip application through which PPE donors and their donations can be matched with potential recipients. The app ensures the equitable distribution of critical PPE and other medical supplies to the places they are needed most. The coalition includes the American Hospital Association, Kaiser Permanente, Kearney, Merit Solutions, Microsoft, and UPS.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information go to https://about.pkaiserpermanente.org/.