Hundreds of frontline healthcare staff have gained access to innovative facial visors thanks to a Donegal-based production project.
The project, started by Letterkenny teachers last week, has already provided large quantities of essential protection for local doctors, nurses and test centre staff in the Covid-19 fight.
Errigal College teacher Garry Gorman set up a team to use 3D printing and laser cutting skills to begin developing faceshields.
They called on other schools and businesses to join the effort and have been overwhelmed by the response and contributions to the cause.
The effort has been further boosted by Errigal college science teacher Michael McMenamin, who brought Convoy-based signage company Signworx on board to offer their services at cost price. Michael also set up a GoFundMe page to support the mass production. Owners Donal and Ann Brennan are providing equipment and materials to enable the quick production of large amounts of laser cutting masks.
Garry said the team has lost count of how many they have produced, but it is thought to be well over 1,000.
“We’ve gone from five volunteers to around 30 members. We are producing a huge amount but the worry is we’ll never meet the demand,” he said.
Daily donations of visors are now going out across many healthcare settings and to Letterkenny University Hospital to protect staff from infection.
They have been gratefully received by many GPs and nurses and are being used in Coronary Care, Renal Dialysis and other departments at LUH.
“When you get doctors phoning you to say this is exactly what they need you feel you’re making a difference,” Michael said.
After receiving a delivery from Michael today, Dr Ciaran Roarty at Scally McDaid Roarty Medical Practice Letterkenny told Donegal Daily: “We were delighted when Michael approached us with his visors. They are really high quality and durable.
“We did get supplies of goggles from the HSE and we are very grateful for this as I know they are doing Trojan work behind the scenes sourcing as much of this type of equipment as possible in a very competitive world market.
“Everyone is concerned about how much more personal protective equipment will be required so having a Donegal man with a strong respected company behind him producing these high quality visors and giving them to healthcare staff – well, that really blew us away. We are delighted and I’m sure our hardworking colleagues in all areas of healthcare will be also.
Dr Roarty added: “I think this is really typical of Donegal people in general- pulling together when needed. He saw how he could help and quietly got on with finding a solution. Thanks again Michael and Signworx.”
Production is now spread across Donegal, with batches also being donated from The Paper Tree in Donegal Town and the FabLab Inishowen and Ballyshannon.
The biggest challenge lies in sourcing the required materials and expertise. A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway to raise more money to buy essential materials. All donations will go directly to the project: https://www.gofundme.com/f/frontline-faceshields