Baylor answers the need for PPE

Faculty, staff and students at Baylor College of Medicine have organized an effort to develop and rapidly produce thousands of face shields for frontline healthcare workers amidst the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.The project is led by Jared Howell, director of the Center for Prosthetic and Orthotic Care and Clinical Innovation in the H. Ben Taub Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The project is in close collaboration with faculty and students in Orthotics and Prosthetics Program in Baylor’s School for Health Professions.

“Making these face shields has become quite important because there’s a global supply shortage,” Howell said. “And it’s important to involve our students. They want to contribute; they want to do all they can to help our frontline healthcare workers.”

The shield is adapted from an open-source design initially proposed by a team at New York University. Enhancements to the original design have been made to speed up fabrication and reduce cost.

Design changes were necessitated by the fact that supply of the elastic bands used to secure the headband became a limiting factor in continued production of the initial design. The Baylor team has jettisoned the elastic bands in favor of a custom-sized polymer headband made from the same material as the shield.

The shields are made with a medical grade face shield polymer, which will be stamped using a custom-made steel rule die to speed production. The design offers the unique advantage of allowing for a completely flat packed system that can be transported easily in large quantities and quickly deployed as they are needed. The shields will be used initially by frontline healthcare workers in Baylor Medicine and the College’s affiliate hospitals.

This design and the tooling will be archived and held by BCM for future supply shortages should additional needs or supply chain disruptions occur in the future.