How to improve on protection

Employees made 70 face shields on a recent day at Pullman Regional Hospital. The shields were made using a design created by Moscow engineer Christian O’Bryan.

PULLMAN — Pullman Regional Hospital staff members used a local engineer’s design to create about 125 face shields that offer hospital employees an extra barrier against COVID-19.

Made with materials that can be found at local stores, the reusable shields protect wearers by covering the eyes and mouth.

“I think the employees will feel a lot safer having an extra layer of protection,” said Amber Roberts, a nurse and education coordinator at the hospital.

Roberts said one of the device’s most important functions is shielding face masks from moisture. This helps ensure the face masks lasts longer, she said, which is imperative because supplies of personal protective equipment are low. Health department officials are encouraging medical professionals to conserve their personal protective equipment, she said, because securing more could be difficult.

The plastic shields can be easily wiped down with disinfectant and used again.

Staff members began making the shields after John O’Bryan, the director of materials at Pullman Regional Hospital, approached his son about designing the equipment.

His son, Christian O’Bryan, of Moscow, is a mechanical engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

Christian O’Bryan said the key to making a shield is finding a plastic material that can curve around the face in a comfortable manner.

Because his wife owned a laminator, he decided to use plastic laminate sheets. Using the laminator, wire cutters, a hole punch and scissors, he assembled the face shield with wire, foam strips, elastic and tape.

“I tried to use things you can easily find locally,” he said.

He posted an instructional video on YouTube that shows how to assemble the mask. In the description of the video, he posted the materials list and a link to a template people can use. The video can be found at /bit.ly/2UUuJRx.

Roberts said that, with the help of Christian O’Bryan’s design, the operating room staff spent a morning recently assembling 10 dozen or so shields.

Christian O’Bryan said he was glad to use his engineering skills to assist the community.

“Even if it helps out a couple hospitals, that’s really cool, and I’m happy to help,” he said.

Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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