In Hood River, Oregon – an hour from Portland – real estate agent and former professional windsurfer Maui Meyer ’83 heard that area hospitals and senior citizen facilities were running low on critical personal protective equipment (PPE), so he quickly tapped his contact list and started making calls.
Fifty hours later, Meyer – Hood River County’s former commissioner – had the monetary donations and commitments from local kayaking and windsurfing suppliers to produce homemade PPE. He had formed a nonprofit, Hand Made Brigade 50 (HMB50), to support distribution of PPE to Oregon healthcare workers. “My phone was melting with calls from doctors,” Meyer said.
With the donations and materials, he prototyped and produced a single-use, emergency isolation gown that he hopes could protect health care workers from airborne COVID-19 droplets. Early versions were made from shower curtains and tablecloths before the brigade settled on a final version made with Tyvek, a water resistant, breathable and tear-resistant material often used in home construction.
Another local company, Sailworks, stopped production of windsurfing equipment and started making monofilm face shields with foam headbands for distribution by HMB50. Their warehouse has been able to ramp-up production to more than 1,000 face shields per day.
Both groups have offered their intellectual property as open-source “tech packs,” in the hopes that other communities with similar capacity might be able to produce handmade PPE to meet their local needs.
Meyer and HMB50 are gathering the locally made medical supplies and donating them to the Hood River County Public Health Department cache, which then assesses needs of the four local hospital and seven senior facilities and distributes accordingly.
HMB50 is accepting donations for production of more gowns, masks and face shields at its website, hmb50.org.
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