Facing the COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
ICU nurses at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City are thankful to Wade Hermansen and Litho Printers and Bindery for the face shields they provided for them as they take care of COVID-positive patients. Back row, from left, Clarissa and Jennifer. Front row, left to right, Adrian and Laura (Maloney) Alipio, daughter of Jim and Ann Lassiter, of Cassville. Contributed photo

Locals build face shields to help protect nurses

Over the last few weeks, people have learned to adapt and adjust their day to day operations and tasks in order to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 (coronavirus).

In the midst of stay-at-home orders and spikes in unemployment, some people have put themselves and those they love through the unimaginable to help serve the rest of the country during this time.

Doctors and nurses have not stopped and have stepped up, but in order to continue to help others, they must also be kept safe.

A group of locals took it upon themselves to design and build a product to help them do just that.

Wade Hermansen, owner of Dry Gulch Manufacturing, Robbie Artherton, Cassville industrial technology teacher, and Litho Printers came together to create a face shield with detachable shields for replacement.

Hermansen said the idea came weeks ago when COVID-19 was really getting big and no one was sure how bad it would get.

“A friend I went to school with travels and provides medical care to people,” he said. “He posted a photo with items he had come up with to help give people more protection.”

The items he saw were very rudimentary, but he thought they were great ideas.

“I follow Laura Maloney Alipio, an ICU nurse at the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, on Facebook, and I got the notion that it was getting tough on the ICU people,” Hermansen said. “I reached out to her and said, “Hey, if you need anything, let me know.’ I could see if it would be something I could source for them.”

A week or two later Alipio reached back out and said they needed face shields.

“I did the research and got with Robbie Artherton and told him about the problem,” Hermansen said. “We found a design that we both liked, and he said he could make the base on the 3D printer, but he couldn’t do the shield. I told him to worry about the base and I would get the shield.”

At that time, more and more people were trying to make things like that for themselves, so Hermansen couldn’t find the material to use anywhere.

“That is when I remembered we used to buy film from Litho Printers,” he said. “So, I contacted them and asked if they had any left over. They had about 50 8-by-11 sheets.”

The film was laser cut so that it curved and hooked onto the back of the base.

“It was designed so that the shield could be peeled off and replaced with a new shield,” Hermansen said. “At that time, they were trying to wash and reuse the shields and we tried to make that easier for them.”

Alipio said after Hermansen asked if there was anything they needed, someone brought in about 10 of the face shields.

“We needed more though,” she said. “So, I called Wade. Social distancing doesn’t work when you are helping a patient. We cant treat from six feet away.”

Alipio said the addition to the face shield help protect the N95 masks they are wearing under it, and the masks are being used every shift.

“It also protects our eyes,” she said. “So, our entire face is protected from splashes, coughing or sneezing. We are thankful for them for making them for us, it is awesome of them to step up like that.”

Hermansen said a lot of people reached out to help with the project.

“Arning offered a laser, and if we needed to up the scale of what we were producing, we would have used them,” he said. “We weren’t trying to mass produce equipment. We were trying to plug a hole until the supply chain could catch up.”

Hermansen said what made him reach out was seeing how bad things were getting.

“Everything was bad news, and I needed a win,” he said. “Not just for me, but the community needed a win.

“The doctors and nurses are in the front lines, they are our troops through this and we need to support them.”

The group made enough bases for 20 people and about 50 replacement shields.

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