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Henry Ford staff craft homemade face masks and eye shield PPE

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 23, 2020
Risk Management
Henry Ford Allegiance staff has resorted to crafting their own face masks and other PPE out of everyday items due to the shortage of supplies in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Allegiance)
Henry Ford Health System staff are getting creative amid the coronavirus pandemic and creating their own personal protective equipment out of everyday items.

Strains on supply chains have led to shortages in necessary gear such as face masks — items that protect doctors and hospital personnel from contracting the virus. To offset the impacts of this deficiency, staff at Henry Ford Health System have resorted to crafting homemade face masks, and eye protection using elastic bands, plastic and Popsicle sticks.

“We have an innovation challenge aimed at getting the best and brightest ideas from our 33,000 employees, and this is one of them,” said Dr. Scott Dulchavsky, CEO of the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, in a statement. “There is a critical shortage of the personal protective equipment our healthcare providers need. In response to that, staff from across Henry Ford are creating homemade eye protection and face masks that are washable, do not degrade if placed into a bleach cleaning solution, and can be reused, within reason.”

The face mask is made out of a quick-dry, moisture-wicking fabric that can be bleached and used repeatedly by staff. It has elastic straps for securing it onto the face, contains a top pocket with a nose piece inside to provide structure when worn, and has another pocket in which staff can replace filter material inside.

For eye protection, the staff used a see through plastic material to create a face shield that can also be bleached. Attached is an elastic band that enables staff members to wear the shield comfortably and easily take it on and off. A Popsicle stick glued on to the top of the plastic provides comfort and structure for the head, and a snap allows the band to be removed to be bleached.

The face shield falls against the mask to provide enough room and breathability for staff. The shield also provides extra protection by extending beyond the side of the provider’s face, and falls low enough to prevent drops of any substance from falling onto areas below the face.

“We have had requests from first responders in the community, the police, EMS and the fire department, because they are also short of PPE,” Mariah Foster and Chantell Krage, both of Henry Ford Allegiance Health, said in a video in which they discussed the design of the products. “So these will also be made here in our facility for our first responders.”

Henry Ford Allegiance volunteers will construct both products in the near future. Other companies are also looking into designing these products, according to Foster and Krage.

The products shown in the video are prototypes. The finished face mask will be made up of two different colors on each side to ensure staff do not place the contaminated side directly on their face. Clasps will be placed on the elastic band of the face shield to provide greater ease to clinicians.

The products are designed to be only short-term fixes to the shortage of supplies that hospitals and health systems are currently facing.

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