Swedish Hospital on Chicago’s North Side has enough personal protective equipment to get it through the next couple of weeks, but it’s in “dire” need of more ahead of an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.
The hospital put up a website seeking donations for everything from cleaning supplies to gloves, masks and face shields.
That’s where the mother-son duo of Deborah and Richard “Richie” Beien come in.
Richie Beien, an engineer, typically uses his 3D printer to make prototypes for business clients, but when he heard the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raise the alarm on a supply shortage possibly requiring workers to use bandanas as protection, he thought he could make something better.
He used 3D printer blueprints he found online, added his personal touch and submitted his design to Swedish. The hospital gave its approval, and the Beiens are now making face shields for Swedish.
“This is what I want to use 3D printers for,” he said. “I’m passionate about 3D printing. I believe it’s the future of manufacturing. We were able to create this design, get it approved and start manufacturing it within five days and we’re filling the gaps where traditional manufacturing has much more longer of a lead time. This is my dream for 3D printing.”
So far, the Beiens have produced 70 face shields for Swedish, but they hope to make thousands, thanks in part to donations from companies.
“Please keep that coming, it’s such an inspiration for everyone coming to work at the hospital every day to feel like the community is supporting them during this difficult time,” said Dr. Shameem Abbasy, a urogynecologist at Swedish Hospital.
Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky