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Given the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that health workers have faced since COVID-19 became a global pandemic, Montgomery College staff, faculty, and alumni are rising to the challenge. Using their own materials, as well as innovative machinery and equipment in their MC labs, College employees have sewn cloth facemasks and created 3D-printed face shields.

Greg Downs wearing a 3D protective mask
Gregory Downs

For staff member Gregory Downs, it all started when Germantown Campus VP/Provost Margaret Latimer reached out at the end of March and asked if he could print out face shields using the 3D printers located at the campus. He has now donated 130 such shields to health care workers at Holy Cross-Germantown Hospital, located within the MC campus.

Printing 30 shields takes about four days. He then drops them off at Holy Cross inside a donation box.

“I’m grateful that Provost Latimer reached out,” Downs said. “Once we determined that it was possible, I was able to get approval to do it. I’m just happy to help out.”

To donate to MoCoMDFightingCOVID19 please visit their website.

Professor Deborah Solomon has been doing her part as well, working with a group called MoCoMDFightingCOVID19. The team’s leader is Usa Bunnag, a dentist and MC alumna who runs two dental offices in Montgomery County. Solomon and her husband had been printing 3D shields at their own volition and donating them to nursing homes and individual health care workers, back before hospitals were asking or taking donations directly. Solomon and Bunnag connected through a mutual acquaintance, also working on PPE, and formed the group of 15 to 20 volunteers.

“I was dropping off 10 shields at a nurse’s house,” Solomon said. “Thus, by combining our production capabilities with Dr. Bunnag’s organizational distribution system, we are now reaching key people and organizations more effectively.”

3D Mask Printer
3D printer

So far, they have made and printed about 5,000 face coverings for hospitals, nursing homes, mental health organizations, and any institution where they have been needed.

We are now reaching key people and organizations more effectively

Dr. Bunnag has run a nonprofit organization called Smiles on Wings, which has aided in tsunami and other emergency relief efforts in Asia. She has been able to use that fundraising and organizational expertise, as well as rely on interns and staff who work with her, and apply it to this crisis. The team has volunteers sewing masks, another team is making 3D printed face shields, and another team is making gowns and gloves.

To Solomon, the fact that MC graduates, students, professors, and their kids–the youngest are 11 and 12 years-old—are all part of the group of volunteers shows how immersed the College is in the county, and beyond. “MC is interwoven throughout the community.”

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