WILLIAMSPORT – As college classes are moved online and labs are emptied, professors are finding ways to put their experience and extra supplies to good use.
“We’re just honored to be able to help our community, because let’s face it these are our neighbors, these our our alumni they’re our family members,” said Sandra L. Richmond, dean of the School of Nursing & Health Sciences at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Penn College is known for its hands-on approach to learning through interactive labs and on-the-job training. So when the campus was closed and students were restricted to learning from the safety of their homes, labs sat empty and materials were left unused.
A campus-wide effort to gather all the unused masks, gloves, gowns and personal protective kits produced thousands of items to give to local medical facilities.
Richmond said it was an almost immediate transition from classwork to making sure all the extra supplies went to those who needed it most. The college’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences works closely with medical facilities throughout the area to provide hands-on experience for its medical students.
“We felt it was definitely very important that they stayed local so we could help our community,” Richmond said.
There was one drop-of location that supplies could be brought to and then distributed from there, Richmond said.
Items distributed by the department included 14,000 vinyl gloves of various sizes, 4,000 nitrile gloves, 300 procedure masks, 170 isolation gowns, 125 face masks with fluid shields, 50 isolation masks, 20 personal protection kits (gown, gloves, booties, cap and mask), and 20 bottles of hand sanitizer.
In addition to donating extra equipment, Eric Albert, associate professor of automated manufacturing and machining, is using a number of 3D printers both in his lab and at his home to produce face shields for nursing home staff and other healthcare workers.
So far, Albert has made dozens of shields for area workers. The shields cover the person’s entire face, reducing the possibility of splatter from other people, and are able to be cleaned and reused.
Albert said he will continue to make the masks as long as they are needed. He has also reached out to his students to encourage them to think of manufacturing solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to face shields, Albert is also making door hooks so individuals don’t need to touch the door, and key chain sanitizer bottles.