3-D printer provides PPE for West Coast General Hospital

City of Port Alberni purchases 3-D printers to help with pandemic

A Port Alberni businessman has been putting his 3-D printing hobby to use by making personal protective equipment (PPE) for local frontline workers.

Kevin Wright, the owner of House Medic Handyman Service in Port Alberni, has printed hundreds of face shields for West Coast General Hospital and nearby care homes since COVID-19 arrived on Vancouver Island in March.

Wright said he was contacted by a local nurse who was concerned about the need for PPEs at the hospital.

“She told me they had already started rationing here,” Wright said. “The procedures, the way they’re doing things has substantially changed because of COVID-19.”

Wright is not the only creator stepping up to help out during the pandemic. In the Cowichan Valley, a group called “Project Draw Breath” is using 3-D printers to create ventilator masks. Wright is also a member of a Facebook group called “Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies” that connects makers across the world with medically vetted, open-source plans to create and distribute protective gear and equipment.

READ MORE: A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

READ MORE: Cowichan’s ‘Project Draw Breath’ team expands and diversifies

“At least half [of the members] are 3-D printers from around the world,” explained Wright. “Medical professionals have been joining forces to help us understand the materials we should be using, processes we should be following.”

Wright partnered with Alberni-based company Houle Printing to provide the plastic covers for the shields, and the City of Port Alberni has stepped up to help by purchasing an extra 10 3-D printers and some additional filament at a cost of $3,400. The funding came out of the city’s ecnomic development budget. The printers will be used as “backup” to Wright’s five personal printers. If they are not needed, economic development manager Pat Deakin says the city will attempt to recoup the costs of the printers by selling them or will donate them to local schools.

“It appeared to us [at the city] that this might be an opportunity to address what seemed to be a profound need in the community,” explained Deakin.

“The city’s been very helpful,” Wright acknowledged.

After “lots of consultation” with local nurses and doctors, Wright delivered the first 100 face shields to West Coast General Hospital on Monday, March 30. He was immediately asked to make 200 more.

“They’re hoping to have one for each and every staff member,” said Wright. “Including pharmacy staff, cleaning staff.”

The Alberni Health Care Auxiliary (formerly the WCGH Auxiliary) donated $1,500 to cover the cost of making the masks for the hospital.

As of Monday, April 6, Wright has printed 550 face shields in total. Three hundred have gone to the hospital, 200 will be going to Fir Park and Echo Villages and an additional 50 will go towards pharmacies, medical labs, store clerks and taxis. Wright estimates that he has put in about 1,000 printer hours since mid-March.

“I’ve been printing all day every day,” said Wright. “It’s an hour and 30 minutes just to make the frame.”

Along with time, a major issue for Wright is the cost to make the face shields. Anyone interested in donating to this venture can reach out to Wright on Facebook or contact him by email: kevin.wright@shaw.ca.

Wright has also been experimenting with N95 masks.

“If they run out, we’ll be able to print some,” he said. “Right now, the No. 1 need is face shields. It provides that physical barrier, and a sense of defence.”

In the meantime, Wright says he is “having fun” making the face shields out of different colours, as opposed to the conventional blue or black.

“I’m trying to make them as cheerful as humanly possible,” he laughed.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusHospitals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Some of the face shield frames that Port Alberni businessman Kevin Wright has made for local frontline workers. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Just Posted

Inquest into death of Jocelyn George postponed due to COVID-19

Coroner’s inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni woman was supposed to start July 6

Port Alberni’s Joe Hill celebrates 90th birthday with waves through a window

Retired accountant receives best wishes via Zoom, meets newborn great-grandchild

Alberni Golf Club reopens with new COVID-19 rules

J and L Mixed Scramble kicks off 2020 season

Help is available for Port Alberni businesses restarting after COVID-19 closures

Popular food truck finds a new location on Johnston Road

A LOOK BACK: recreation in Port Alberni’s downtown

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Most Read