Community organizations donate masks to hospital

Kaweah Delta receives a donation of over 150 masks, but they’re looking to the community for even more help

By Jermaine Johnson II

VISALIA – As COVID-19 spreads around the world, the supply of N95 masks are rapidly depleting. To help combat this issue, several local organizations decided to print and donate reusable masks for health care workers at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.

College of the Sequoias, Exeter High School, Ridgeview Middle School, and ProYouth are just some of the organizations that were able to use their own 3D printers to produce and donate reusable masks. This all started because of an organization in Yakima, Wash. who decided to do the same thing about a month ago.

“Our critical care education team saw a video of a gentleman in Yakima, Washington who had several 3D printers and was printing [masks] for his community hospital,” critical care educator, Adam Silva said. “So we decided to reach out to the high schools in the area and see if they would be willing to partner with us to stand by health care workers and let them know that they’re not forgotten and that their lives matter.”

Within minutes, Silva began receiving “heart-warming” responses. Kaweah Delta received approximately 150 masks in addition to ear protectors that helps prevent the masks from damaging the skin. Since the proper materials weren’t handled well by the available printers, an extra step of adding seal gaskets was necessary to ensure the masks met proper protocols.

“This is going to help us by having a backup to the N95 masks. If the workers have ran through their allotment of masks for the day, they can wipe this one down, put it on and it will ensure the safety of patients and nurses,” Silva said.

The critical care education team is now working to keep this project going but they need even better equipment. To maintain the quality of masks, while also maintaining the time to produce them, they ordered better 3D printers that can print the proper materials and they’re hoping to order more with some help from the community.

“Our goal is to reach out to the community to see if we can get donations to buy these printers and donate them to each center that helped us print,” Silva said. “That way we can make the fully optimized masks and we can get masks to every health care worker, not just the people on the front line.”

The group started a Venmo account (@CommunityPartners559) that community members can donate money to. Ideally, the donations will help reimburse some of the materials purchased by the hospital and the money will also go towards the purchase of more printers.

“As healthcare workers we care for patients and forego the necessities that we need to care for ourselves properly but the community has stepped up and let us know that we aren’t forgotten and that we’re cared for,” Silva said.

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