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Great Lakes Composites Institute partners with local groups to create PPE face shields

April 8, 2020

BAY MILLS — While regional health and community facilities are scrambling to order safety supplies to protect their staff from the coronavirus, Great Lakes Composites Institute has risen to the challenge. GLCI, owned by Bay Mills Community College, is making and distributing PPE face shields through partnerships with staff from EUPISD/EUP STEM Region, local schools and Lake Superior State University.


In late March, officials from Bay Mills Indian Community inquired about GLCI producing safety equipment. Seven days later, a plan was in place and the first prototype was created. Since face shield production began on April 1, GLCI and partners have donated more than 600 units to eight facilities, including two major hospitals, police/fire departments, Bay Mills Health Center and Clark County EMS.


“War Memorial Hospital is very appreciative of the face shields that we have been able to obtain through BMCC.  During the current COVID-19 crisis, we need to keep our patient care staff safe and this can be done by having enough personal protective equipment, which at this time is in very short supply,” said David Jahn, WMH CEO and president. “These masks will allow us to provide the necessary PPE to our staff so that they can be safe when taking care of patients with the COVID-19 virus.  We were very worried about how we would be able to find enough PPE for our staff and we are so grateful that BMCC has been able to help us out!”


Three additional centers will be receiving units by April 10. War Memorial Hospital and Mackinac Straits Hospital are receiving supplies every two days. There has been positive response from recipients for use of this lightweight versatile fit shield design.


“Mackinac Straits Health System is extremely grateful for the recent donation of 100 face shields through the efforts of at the Great Lakes Institute of Bay Mills Community College. With this generous gift, we will be able to provide the necessary personal protection equipment needed to keep our hospital employees safe when treating patients. These face shields will be utilized in our Emergency Department and in our Acute Care Unit,” said Mike Grisdale, Mackinac Straits Health System marketing director. “Thanks to great community support like this, our organization is motivated more than ever to provide access to quality care for the Eastern Upper Peninsula and the Straits of Mackinac.”


According to GLCI Technical Director Dr. Christopher Griffen, targeted minimum production is 3,000 units by the end of April. Currently, 160 shields are being produced each day. The program will continue and adjust to the EUP needs going forward. “The challenge will be continued supply of frames and optical visor materials presently in global allocation,” said Griffen.


The process to create the shields in volume is limited by the 3D printing times for the frames. Each shield takes approximately 40 minutes to print. Once the frames are at GLC, assembly takes under five minutes. Griffen is looking at adding another individual to the staff next week based on the current growth in potential recipients asking for the shields.


“The effectiveness in reaching regional facilities with this fundamental PPE device early and with sufficient supply need is due to organizations that have eliminated barriers to deliver critical materials every day,” said Griffen. “We will rely heavily on the partner organizations as a critical supplier in the coming months.”   


Partner organizations include Precision Edge (which will begin shield support on April 13), LSSU and school districts including JKL Bahweting, Rudyard Schools, Sault Schools, Tahquamenon Schools, Detour Schools, Pickford Schools, Inland Lakes Schools, and Les Cheneaux Community Library thus far. Griffen can’t stress enough the support GLCI is receiving from EUPISD STEM staff and their schools, which are supplying a majority of the frame components.


“EUPISD STEM has contributed extensively to this effort and should be recognized for their work,” said Griffen.


Although calls have come from other hospitals in lower Michigan requesting supplies, Griffen noted that providing ample supply to the local area is the first priority. If a supply chain for additional materials from downstate can be identified, the possibility of increasing production is more likely. That decision will be made in days to come.

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