Major companies including Starbucks, Uber, Facebook and Apple are stepping up to help health care workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
RICHMOND, Ind. — Primex Plastics planned delivery at noon Thursday of face shields to protect Reid Health employees during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The product, of which Reid has ordered 1,000, did not exist Sunday; yet, four days later, Reid personnel will have face shields that fit firmly around their necks and attach to their Max Air biomedical helmets. The helmets protect against contagious airborne diseases.
“I go home pretty proud of my company and my employees,” said Doug Borgsdorf, a Primex Business Unit Director who runs the division producing the shields, by telephone Wednesday.
A church connection brought Reid’s need to protect its people to Primex’s attention Sunday, and Primex quickly began work. Borgsdorf called it an Apollo 13 moment and an arts and crafts project when serious work began Monday. Apollo 13 because Primex took the materials it had on hand and began brainstorming what might meet Reid’s needs. Some extra materials were then bought at the local Joann Fabric and Craft store.
Consulting with Reid, Primex developed 40 samples, Borgsdorf said. Within 48 hours, a prototype was ready, and within 72 hours, production began.
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“We can’t overstate the positive impact this will have on our team members on the front lines in facing this outbreak, especially when our heroes are from our own community,” said Craig Kinyon, president and CEO of Reid Health, in a news release. “We have to protect our team or we risk not having people to care for patients. The team at Primex truly stepped up on our behalf — and with unbelievable speed.”
Borgsdorf said Primex President Mike Cramer fosters an environment where Primex does whatever it takes to get the job done. And that’s what happened this week.
“We’re not one of those companies that says ‘we can’t’ very often, but there were a lot of ‘I don’t knows’ if we could pull this off,” said Borgsdorf, who has been with Primex for five years.
He credited Primex employees with their efforts and suppliers with helping Primex gather needed materials for production. The shields are far different from the normal returnable protective packaging Primex normally produces.
“Now we make protective packaging for people,” Borgsdorf said.
And that goes beyond Reid. With Reid’s order for helmet shields filled, Primex will ramp up production of a plastic shield that does not attach to a biomedical helmet. The PrimexProtect, a clear, plastic face shield, adds greater protection for individuals and extends the life of N95 masks.
PrimexProtect, which secures to the head with a Velcro strap, is marketed for medical providers and care facilities, and Borgsdorf said there has been plenty of interest, including an order from Reid. He hopes to have 30,000 PrimexProtect shields produced by midweek next week.
“We’re doing something to really help the community out,” Borgsdorf said.
Primex has also produced packaging for shipping coronavirus test kits, which falls more in line with what the company would normally design and produce. Again, production of sheets for the kits was accomplished within a week.
But that hardly compares to the quick turnaround of potentially life-saving face shields. According to Reid’s release, Brent Cotter, a manager in Reid’s Material Services department, asked Vice President Scott Rauch if a local company might provide help overcoming Reid’s shortage of personal protective equipment. Rauch reached out to Primex employee Dale Blunk, who attends Bible study with Rauch.
Four days later, Reid employees will be better protected against COVID-19.
“It feels good when everybody in the community comes together to pull something off,” Borgsdorf said.
That effort made an impact on Borgsdorf, especially when he explained to his family what Primex was doing.
“Just telling them got me choked up,” he said, particularly noting the reaction of his 15-year-old son, Anthony. “He was really excited and amazed.”
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