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Nonprofits create tiny face shield prototype for newborns

Posted at 3:58 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 16:00:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. — A collective of Richmond nonprofits have sent hundreds of face shields to first responders fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re also working to protect newborns from the novel coronavirus.

Bert Green quickly adapted his Henrico workshop to help those on the front lines when business slowed at his manufacturing company, SolarMill.

“As long as there's a need out there we're going to continue to fill that need,” Green explained.

He also serves as the president of the nonprofit RVA Makers, a group of small business makers, craftspeople, and artists who partner together on local projects.

Along with Build RVA and Good Work Society, the groups have collaborated on #RVAProjectShield.

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“I took a look at what’s going on and realized the best use for my skills was outsourcing and making these face shields on a larger scale,” Green stated.

Dozens of people have volunteered their time, skills and resources to produce plastic face shields using 3D printers and manual assembly lines.

The shields work to protect hospital workers from the coronavirus and to prolong their personal protective equipment.

However, their work isn’t isolated to just helping adults from contracting the coronavirus.

Green said the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU recently requested a prototype of his face shield to fit newborn babies.

“From the time we got the request I had the first prototype done in less than two and half hours,” he explained.

The infant-sized shield uses plastic cut from a sheet that’s attached to foam and Velcro. About two or three smaller sized shields can be created from an adult-sized shield.

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The CDC has warned that masks should not be placed on young children under the age of 2.

“One of the reasons why these are so needed for infants is because you can't use a regular face mask with them. It’s too constraining,” Green said. “So, for smaller children and infants the face shield might be the only option that we have to improve their level of protection.”

He’s now working with doctors to fine-tune the prototype.

Doctors in Thailand have placed tiny shields on newborn babies while they traveled home from the hospital for extra protection.

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A GoFundMe has been set up to help with the cost of supplies to make the shields.

Polymershapes, a wholesaler based in Richmond, supplied and donated some of the plastic used in the shields.

The nonprofits have planned to assemble and distribute 13,200 total face shields to those on the front lines in need of protection.

“I feel very small in all of this. It’s really been a creative team effort,” Green stated. “It’s everyone coming together to figure out how to help those in greatest need right now.”

This story was originally published by Brendan King at WTVR.