MCC creates face shields to protect health care workers from COVID-19

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across the nation, there is a shortage of face masks for health care workers.

Ken Heinze, the prototype design lab coordinator at Metropolitan Community College, is working to come up with a solution locally.

"At first it was just me with a couple of sheets of transparency and some tape," Heinze said.

Last Thursday he had made three of the face shields,

6 News came by the prototype lab not even a week later to see the progress since then.

"1,100 masks to Children's recently and we just gave 1,200 to UNMC today," Heinze said.

Today, his team of 25 has a goal of completing 1,500 of the masks and by the end of the week, they hope to have 10,000 made.

The operation is looking to expand into the culinary building next door to the prototype lab.

Employees at the VA have asked how they can replicate their process to help out. Heinze also mentioned they're looking to work with the Department of Corrections and their first step program to have them pitch in.

The masks are put together using a plastic sheet, a piece of foam, spray-on adhesive, an elastic band and hot glue and staples.

"Everybody who could come in contact with the public, so any intact workers or anybody working in their environment should have some kind of protection over their face," he said.

Once the face shields make it through their widely spaced out assembly line, they come to the quality control station to ensure there are no defects. After that, they're boxed up 75 at a time and ready to be given to those who need them most.

Dr. James Linder, the CEO of Nebraska Medicine explained how these shields work; "The individual who's delivering care to a patient will wear this on their head and it basically protects their eyes from any spatter, it also helps protect the masks they may be wearing."

These shields aren't a new concept, they're generally accessible for hospital employees as a part of their personal protection equipment.

"But the demand in taking care of patients who have coronavirus infection, literally throughout the country, has put these in short supply," Dr. Linder said.

A short supply of PPE is putting doctors and nurses around the world at risk.

"If we don't prioritize protecting health workers, many people will die," that stark warning given by Tedros Adhanom, the World Health Organization's director-general.

Which is why now more than ever, work being done by people like Heinze is so important.

"If they have concepts that could improve patient safety, employee safety, we are ears wide open to what we can do," Dr. Linder explained.