HUDSON — A contingent of volunteers at Western Reserve Academy are producing medical face shields during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shields are being made in the Wang Innovation Center -- the school's 6,000-square-foot collaborative learning space -- through an effort led by Matt Gerber, WRA’s Chief Innovation Officer.
Thanks to a team of volunteers and the use of the laser cutter and 3D printers, Gerber said they are able to produce 100 masks a day.
"It’s been a collaborative effort to make these shields," Gerber stated.
Last Wednesday, the first round of 100 shields were donated to the Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg campus. The next day, Hudson Fire/EMS Chief Jerry Varnes met Gerber in the WIC to pick up 70 shields for his department.
Varnes said he divided up the shields "based on need" among the city’s fire, EMS and police departments.
"All of us at the Hudson safety forces greatly appreciate the generosity of WRA, Suzanne Walker Buck and Matthew Gerber for supplying these critically important personal protective face shields for our personnel," added Varnes.
Gerber said more than 100 shields have been donated to Summit County Public Health for distribution to first responders, EMT technicians and anyone else who needs the equipment. He noted that an additional 100-plus shields were given to pharmacies at Giant Eagle, CVS and Acme, as well as dental offices in Hudson and some individuals who requested them.
The work to assemble and cut the masks was completed by: Science Chair and Director of Community Outreach and Global Engagement Wanda Boesch; Jimena Oliva ’22; Sergio Cordon; Modern & Classical Languages faculty Dr. Ralf Borrmann; Max Borrmann '16; Sophie Borrmann '20; Walker Larivee ’20; Ryan Stifler '15; Mail Room & General Maintenance Technician Rob Pollard; and Fine & Performing Arts faculty Nick Mudd. The group practiced social distancing while working on the masks.
Gerber said he is having no more than four volunteers in the Wang Innovation Center at any one time so that the proper social distancing can occur. A group of about 10 volunteers have rotated in and out of the facility.
Gerber said one of the challenges in starting the effort was securing enough plastic and elastic materials. He added he still has "enough material to make a couple hundred more [shields]."
Anyone in the city of Hudson who needs a medical face shield should contact Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[We’re] more than willing to help out," said Gerber.
The new effort adds to other initiatives from WRA, including the Reserve Your Meal program and a partnership with the city of Hudson to provide housing for first responders.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.