In an effort to use the resources James Madison University has, develop an online learning experience for students and aid in the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty are meeting a need in the community and the health care industry at large, according to a press release.
It has been well-publicized that hospitals and other clinics are in need of masks, gowns, gloves and other medical equipment to treat patients, but just as important, to protect staff while treating others.
As businesses, organizations and individuals rally to do what they can to help out during this time of need, JMU has also been doing what it can, said Bethany Nowviskie, dean of libraries.
There have been a number of projects implemented to help produce personal protective equipment. The first was to gather up what JMU already has in terms of masks, gloves, gowns and other items in labs across campus that will not be used now that students are no longer returning to campus for the semester.
That effort has been headed up by Sharon Lovell, dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, which includes most of the nursing programs, Nowviskie said. Lovell has many connections with area hospitals and clinics and is coordinating to make sure supplies end up where they need to be.
From there three additional projects have been launched to create more PPE for health care workers.
Sophomore industrial design students are working with others to make hundreds of fabric face masks to distribute to health care workers, according to the press release. The press release says these students have partnered with others from architectural design, graphic design, engineering, nursing, and the School of Integrated Science and Technology to take part in a variety of aspects of this project.
Other JMU departments, including JMU Libraries, are partnering with local businesses and individual makers to 3D-print face shields. Sentara RMH Medical Center has requested approximately 1,200 shields. In the first full day of production, this cross-campus and community effort manufactured 191 face shields, all while maintaining social distancing and the following the safest health practices.
Before producing the face shields en masse, a prototype was sent to Sentara RMH to make sure it was up to the health standards for such an item.
JMU is working with maker communities in Harrisonburg to create these face shields as fast as they can. JMU has 30 3D printers that are running day and night, Nowviskie said.
“We’re cranking them out a clip,” she said. Faculty from many different departments are stepping in to help with the logistics of creating these face shields.
And lastly, coming out of the Chemistry Department, faculty are producing hand sanitizer by the gallon, Nowviskie said.
“The raw materials ... we have on hand would have been used on instruction,” Nowviskie said.
In total, Nowviskie said she believes between 20 and 30 faculty and staff members at JMU are involved in these efforts.