Face Shield Production by Eastern Virginia Medical School Students to Help Protect Healthcare Providers Against COVID-19
Due to a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment available in hospitals around the country, physicians and nurses working on the frontlines find themselves lacking basic protective measures to fight against this pandemic. While the demand for face masks surges and the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 grows, the usea of face shields can protect healthcare providers from fluids that may contain the virus. The shields also preserve masks that can be used for future use. At Eastern Virginia Medical School, we are helping to meet this demand to protect our healthcare workers by enlisting medical student volunteers to assemble face shields.
We reached out to students through our school student government website and class Facebook pages to gauge interest. A Google form was sent out asking for availability, contact information, and comfort working in-person on the EVMS campus to construct the shields. Students signed up on an Excel spreadsheet for shifts and were screened daily for symptoms prior to entering the campus building. While working and handling the materials, students wore both gloves and face masks at all times while maintaining social distancing protocols at different work stations.
We worked with Dr. Alfred Abuhamad, Chairman of the EVMS Obstetrics and Gynecology department, to develop prototypes for two different types of face shields: a hard plastic, durable face shield that can be cleaned and reused for day-to-day patient care as well as a soft plastic, disposable face shield that can be used for procedures. Materials used to construct the shields were made of common items that could be found in local hardware stores that were easily sourced. Multiple prototypes were tested for safety, comfort, and fogging in a clinical setting prior to widespread use. Shields were assembled by super gluing foam to the plastic shields with elastic bands stapled at the edges. Students worked in an assembly line fashion with the goal of producing 500 hard plastic face shields and 500 soft plastic face shields. Face shields will be distributed to providers at the main hospital on campus in addition to various outpatient clinics.