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UNIVERSAL PLASTICS EDUCATIONAL FACE SHIELD SYSTEM

Face Shields Designed for teachers, with input from teachers

Schools are grappling with the difficult task of keeping staff and students safe while teaching effectively. In conjunction with educators, the Universal Plastics Educational Face Shield System was developed specifically to meet this need.

 

Educational Face Shield System with Drape

Universal Plastics has developed an adult face shield system for teachers that provides full facial coverage and comfortable protection. The 4″ drape adds even more protection and the brow wrap provides additional comfort. We also offer Petite/Youth and Extra Long face shields with drapes.

Description

Universal Plastics has developed a face shield system that provides full facial coverage and comfortable protection. This product is durable, reusable, and made in the USA! Made with sturdy, recycled FDA approved plastic materials, the firm material keeps the shield in place allowing for all-day use and comfort.

The face shield drape provides additional protection as it extends 4”-8″ below the shield. It’s a soft, breathable material that easily moves with you. It’s attached to the shield with Velcro to ensure it stays on all day and is machine washable. Our drapes are custom made to fit our shields. The adult drape and petite/youth drape extend 4″ below the shield and the  XL drape  extends 8″ below the shield.

The brow wrap makes the shield even more comfortable for all-day wear. The band is adjustable after you place it on your head for a true fit, is designed to absorb moisture, and is machine washable.

 


Competitive Analysis


Reviews

  1. 5 out of 5

    Physician Assistant. 

    My favorite face shield! Sturdy, easy to clean, comfortable (especially with headband cover), minimal fogging and the contour is a nice feature. I feel safe and protected at work as a physician assistant.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dona Ana Community College, Facilities Support 

    The Universal Plastics Educational Face Shields allowed the instructors at Dona Ana Community College to teach the hybrid and face-to-face classes with an added layer of protection; health and safety being a top priority at DACC. I also want to thank the staff of Universal Plastics who in the midst of the pandemic made it possible to obtain the masks in time for the fall term.

  3. 5 out of 5

    North Brookfield Public Schools, Head Nurse 

    They’re comfortable and the teachers find it easier to teach when children can see their faces. Safety, comfort, and peace of mind as we teach.

  4. out of 5

    Meridian Community College, Staff Member 

    I had extreme difficulty trying to teach in my mask and I tried a few different types. With my allergies and sinus issues, I also had a very difficult time trying to breathe. Finally, I wear eyeglasses and no matter what I tried, when I was teaching, my glasses fogged up frequently. The shield solved all of these issues. I am VERY GRATEFUL for it and appreciate the care the college took in finding a mask that not only helped me to be a more effective teacher but also properly protected me in accordance with CDC guidelines! THANK YOU


    FAQs

    Can you wear a face shield instead of a mask?

    Guidelines vary by state, but most agree that face shields are an acceptable alternative when masks are a hindrance. According to the CDC, if face shields are used, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin3, which our shields with the drape do. Remember to also social distance and wash your hands.

    What are the size options and dimensions of the shield and drape?

    Shield: standard size: 10” long; petite/youth: 8.75” long; Drape: standard size: 4” long; XL: 8” long. We recommend the standard size for most adults and the petite/youth for smaller adults and children; the adjustable band allows custom fit.

    Does the shield require assembly?

    Our shield does not require any assembly; it arrives fully assembled and individually bagged to prevent scratching.

    How do you wash the shields?

    CDC Guidelines are as follows and at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/eye-protection.html

    1.While wearing gloves, carefully wipe the inside, followed by the outside of the face shield using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.

    2.Carefully wipe the outside of the face shield using a wipe or clean cloth saturated with EPA-registered hospital disinfectant solution.

    3.Wipe the outside of face shield with clean water or alcohol to remove residue.

    4.Fully dry (air dry or use clean absorbent towels).

    5.Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.

    How is the drape washed?

    The drape may be washed in the washing machine or by hand and can go in the dryer – it does not shrink.

    What’s the air flow like?

    Since portions of the face shield are open, the shield is much cooler than a traditional facemask or N95. There is no foam pad taking up the space between the shield and your forehead, so heat generated by the user can easily dissipate and glasses don’t fog up. The face shield does not impede normal breathing and is not restrictive while in use. According to Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center, “you don’t get to feel the breeze on your face, but you do get some fresh air, rather than trying to breathe through a cloth mask.“3

    Can you still be heard well?

    The face shield allows communication without muffling voice or hiding expressions. While there is some noise reduction due

    to the barrier, the shield has more open space for sound to travel farther compared to a cloth mask.

    How long has someone worn one comfortably?

    All day – as essential workers, Universal Plastics employees have been wearing them since we began production in March and have remained safe working throughout – see pics below of our family! The shield is lightweight and comfortable, does not fog up even with eye-glasses & the adjustable strap made from soft bungee cord allows for a custom fit.

    How have kids reacted?

    A face shield provides a clear visual of others’ facial expressions, making kids feel more comfortable compared to face masks which obscure the face.  These face shields help kids recognize facial cues as they normally would. It could be fun to decorate the shield with your child or children to engage and increase their ownership of the mask!

    Is it dishwasher safe?

    No – however, it can be cleaned per instructions above. The shield may distort in higher temp. water settings – some dishwashers have a “sanitize” mode which uses elevated temp. water artificially heated by coils in the washer which may distort the plastic shield. In addition, dishwasher detergent is extremely abrasive & may scratch or cloud the shield surface.

    Should the shield be left in a hot car? 

    Ambient temperature of the interior of a car in the hot sun with the windows closed can climb above 130 degrees. Extended periods where the outside temp. is approx. 100 deg., it may even exceed 170 degrees. Shields exposed to this heat for extended periods may warp simply due to the weight of the shield itself. It should not be left in a hot car for extended periods.

    1. Lindsley  WG, Noti  JD, Blachere  FM, Szalajda  JV, Beezhold  DH.  Efficacy of face shields against cough aerosol droplets from a cough simulator.   J Occup Environ Hyg. 2014;11(8):509-518.
    2. Eli N. Perencevich, MD, MS; Daniel J. Diekema, MD, MS; Michael B. Edmond, MD, MPH, MPA. Moving Personal Protective Equipment Into the Community. JAMA Network, 2020
    3. Dennis Thompson. Covid face shields replace masks in preventing COVID-19?. Medical Xpress, 2020

    SUPPORTING ARTICLES ON FACE SHIELDS

    Face shields that wrap around the face and extend below the chin can be considered as an alternative where cloth face coverings would hinder the learning process. Some situations where face  shields would be useful include:
    • When interacting with students, such as those with disabilities, where communication could be impacted
    • When interacting with English-language learners or when teaching a foreign language.
    • Settings where cloth masks might present a safety hazard (i.e. science labs)
    • For individuals who have difficulty wearing a cloth face covering

    COVID-19 Health & Prevention Guidance for OH K-12 Schools


    Fauci Says Face Shields Good Idea for Teachers Back in Schools

    Children ages 10 to 19 can spread Covid-19 as easily as adults, and it might be a good idea for teachers to wear face shields if they return to the classroom, Anthony Fauci said in an interview Monday.

    Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said data clearly shows older children can be spreaders and that there is “a reasonable assumption” to be made that the high viral loads seen in some very young children means they too can transmit the virus, even though they’re less likely to get seriously ill.

    “Any mucousal surface is susceptible” to the virus, Fauci said in response to online questioning about face shields from Howard Bauchner, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    Fauci’s comments come with new U.S. cases rising. Fauci said there’s progress being made in developing treatments to help keep early disease from advancing, and highlighted two trials for monoclonal antibodies. One will be for outpatients in the early stages of the disease and the other for hospitalized patients who aren’t yet severely ill.

    To limit growth of the virus, states seeing an “insidious increase” in positive tests don’t necessarily need to close down as tightly as they did early in the pandemic, according to Fauci. But he said they must intensify the push toward mask-wearing and other public health imperatives.

    “It’s in our hands,” Fauci said, noting that he was pleased that President Donald Trump has been wearing a mask more in public. “We need more of that consistency,” he said.

    On the question of vaccines, Fauci said “everything needs to be “transparent” to get the backing of the public for any successful effort. He said independent data monitoring boards will be closely reviewing the trials as they play out over the next few months, and all of their findings should be available.

    But both he and JAMA’s Bauchner expressed concern that recent positive news releases related to vaccines were issued too early. Bauchner asked if that’s a practice that should be restrained.

    “I think that’s a good idea,” Fauci responded, but he said he’s been told by companies that the releases are needed to meet U.S. financial regulations.


    COVID FACE SHIELDS REPLACE MASKS IN PREVENTING COVID-19?

    (HealthDay)—Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but some people find them awkward, uncomfortable or downright unbearable to wear.

    There’s another good option available for people who just can’t get used to strapping on a face mask while out in public, experts say.

    Plastic face shields offer another means of deterring COVID-19 that some might find easier, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.

    They’re clear plastic or plexiglass shields that cover the entire face, from the forehead down to the chin or lower. An elastic headband holds the shield in place.

    Face shields have been shown to reduce viral exposure by 96% when worn within 18 inches of a cough, and by 92% at the currently recommended 6 feet of social distancing, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    “Face shields may supplant these masks, eventually,” Adalja said. “I think there’s much more evidence supporting their use.”

    While not as popularly promoted as face masks, face shields are available for purchase online. Amazon offers many different brands of face shields, including one developed by its own engineers.

    Shields offer a number of benefits over masks, but also a few drawbacks, experts said.

    Because they extend down from the forehead, shields protect the eyes as well as the nose and mouth, said Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center. Viruses can enter the body through the eyes.

    Adalja noted that face shields also can be more comfortable for people to wear. “It feels less obstructive on their mouth and nose than a mask,” he said.

    Esper pointed out that “you don’t get to feel the breeze on your face, but you do get some fresh air, rather than trying to breathe through a cloth mask.”

    Person-to-person communication is better with a face shield. People can see your whole face through the shield, making it easier for folks to talk, Adalja said.

    “Many people when they’re talking to people will take off their mask or bring it down. People reflexively do that because their voice is muffled by the mask,” Adalja said. “You can see people’s facial expressions much better with a face shield.”

    The shields are relatively lightweight and comfortable to wear. They’re also reusable, if a person takes the time to clean them with an antibacterial wipe or soap and water after an outing, Adalja and Esper said.

    Esper stressed that regular cleaning will be necessary because one drawback of the shields is that they provide an apt surface upon which the virus can survive.

    “We know this virus likes to live on plastic a lot better than it likes to live on porous materials like cloth, paper or cardboard,” he explained.

    The type of protection a face shield provides is also very different from that of face masks, the experts said.

    Masks protect others around you from germs you are carrying. Face shields do the opposite, protecting you from being infected by the people around you.

    “It protects you, the wearer,” Esper said. “But if you cough, because this face shield is away from your face, those droplets can still get out better than if you have a mask on, where they basically get sucked up by the mask itself.”

    Doctors working with sick people wear both a face mask and a face shield, and the combination offers the best protection against viral spread, Esper said.

    However, Esper and Adalja think average folks should be able to use either device by itself.

    “Folks out in the community are having a hard enough time with one or the other, let alone asking them to wear both,” Esper said.

    Full Article


    SOME EXPERTS SAY FACE SHIELDS BETTER THAN MASKS FOR CORONAVIRUS PROTECTION

    By now we know we should be wearing face masks to protect others from potentially deadly infection when we leave the house. But face masks can be hot, and they can irritate the skin, fog glasses, make it difficult for some to breathe and create a world without smiles. It also can be difficult for people who have hearing loss to communicate when mouths are covered, muffling voices and hiding facial expressions.

    Are clear plastic face shields, most frequently used in health care settings, a better option?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” But some health experts say shields appear to be very effective at preventing infection — maybe even more effective than masks — for someone going about regular daily activities and not in a high-risk health care setting.

    Amesh Adalja, M.D., a pandemic preparedness expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says, “There’s a lot of at least biological possibility to suspect that [shields] are definitely better than homemade face masks, and maybe even better than other types of masks as well, because they not only prevent you from spreading it … [and] because it also covers your eyes, it provides more protection to the mucus membranes of your face where you might be getting infected.”

    James Cherry, M.D., a distinguished research professor and infectious disease expert at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says that while experts aren’t yet sure about how vulnerable our eyes are to infection from this coronavirus, “With many viruses, the eyes are important.” He points to measles and adenoviruses as examples of viruses that are known to infect people through their eyes.

    Another benefit, says Adalja: With a mask, you may find yourself constantly adjusting it and therefore touching your face and possibly transferring the virus from your hands, but wearing a shield “doesn’t really put you in a position where you’re touching your face so much, because it’s not as cumbersome to wear.”

    And finally, Adalja adds, “If you walk down the sidewalk, you can find lots of masks that are just discarded there, which are an infection control risk for other people. Whereas a face shield is something that people can just clean themselves and reuse.”

    A recent opinion piece in JAMA by Eli Perencevich, M.D., a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and two of his colleagues pointed to such benefits of shields for infection prevention, and noted that “face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough.” In an April 19 tweet Perencevich wrote, “Biggest benefit of face shields would be inside crowded office situations where air exchanges aren’t ideal.”

    Another benefit? With warmer weather, many may also find a face shield attached to a headband or cap cooler to wear than a cloth mask.

    Some members of the public are taking such arguments to heart — choosing shields especially for their ability to keep the entire face visible.

    Lauren Lek, head of school at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, in San Diego, plans to have her 750 returning faculty and students wear face shields at school rather than masks this August. “Safety and health for our community is a priority for us in reopening,” she says. “As soon as we saw from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and our local public health office that face shields would be an acceptable alternative to face masks, we knew this was a direction we wanted to move in.”

    Noting that face-to-face interaction is key to the education her school provides, Lek adds that face shields are better than masks for students with learning differences, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), because they allow for full visibility of facial expressions that can help them read and understand social cues.

    The school has purchased more than 10 different types of face shields to test before classes restart, Lek says, with each posing challenges in terms of clarity, fogging, ease of cleaning and reuse. They also shouldn’t cause headaches when worn 10 hours a day. “With each product we try, we are getting closer to the best option for the start of school in August.”

    Double protection?
    Some people are choosing both infection-prevention methods. Hope Taitz, an investment manager in New York City who travels frequently for business, began wearing a face mask and face shield together when she saw the pandemic starting to unfold while logging 100,000 miles of travel in January and February. She said one of the best things she saw traveling in Asia were deep bubble umbrellas that can cover you from head to midsection.

    You’re likely to find only health care workers wearing both a shield and a mask simultaneously, however. “I don’t wear the shield alone,” says Anne Mary Orr, a dentist in private practice in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. “At work, the whole point of the shield is to keep particulate matter off the mask. The N95 mask I wear under it helps filter breathing the virus. Our greatest risk is to inhale an aerosol at work, more so than focusing on the droplets.”

    Kristi Carnahan, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, says she also wears a mask beneath her plastic face shield to provide more “protection against anything in the air getting into your mouth or nose as you breathe.”

    That reasoning may make sense in a health care setting, says Adalja, but “I don’t think you get much added benefit to wearing a mask if you’ve already got a face shield on, for the average person.” The odds of the viral particles floating upwards under your shield are a long shot for most of us, he adds: “Someone would have to stand underneath you and sneeze up into you. It would be an odd circumstance that would cause that.”

    Keeping the mouth visible
    Carnahan acknowledges that masks are difficult for people like herself who have hearing difficulties. She says she finds herself asking colleagues to repeat themselves frequently when she cannot see their mouths. “It is a reality for many who rely on lip reading or ASL [American Sign Language] that masks make communicating much harder,” she notes, “especially because facial expressions are an integral part of American Sign Language.”

    While it doesn’t explicitly recommend the use of face shields, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recently sent a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield asking the agency to emphasize the need for clear face masks and other communication aids in health care settings to help people with hearing and other communication disorders. “If a patient doesn’t hear/understand properly, there could be serious consequences like adverse medical events,” says ASHA spokesperson Francine Pierson. Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, for one, has begun using special masks with transparent cutouts making the mouth visible for health care workers speaking to patients with hearing loss.

    Whatever you decide to wear to prevent infection when you’re out and about, keep in mind that staying safe from COVID-19 means putting in place multiple safeguards, including thorough handwashing.

    The most important safety measure, though, is social distancing, Cherry says. “The virus is in these droplets, and they don’t go very far — they fall to the ground. So that’s why [staying] 6 feet away from others is the most important thing that we can all do.”

    Where to buy shields
    Shields come attached to hats or attach to glasses or headbands. You can buy them online, often for less than $20, at sites such as Gearbest, Pro-Tex and Amazon. Some manufacturers, like RealShield by Racing Optics Inc., are making face shields with UV coatings.

    “For optimal protection,” Perencevich and his colleagues assert in their JAMA article, “the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield’s headpiece.”

    Full Article


    WILL A FACE SHIELD PROTECT YOU FROM CORONAVIRUS?


    We’ve been doing the mask mambo for months now. Some of us can wear them effortlessly while others…ehhh, well. Let’s just say this new accessory has added a little frustration to some of our daily activities. But whether we like it or not, masks aren’t going away anytime soon.

    What’s the alternative to foggy glasses, dragon breath, a mask that travels all over your face or just being a hot, sweaty mess all the time? If you aren’t afraid to stand out in a crowd and don’t mind taking a bolder route when it comes to personal protective equipment options, a face shield might be the way to go.

    What is a face shield?
    During the early days of the pandemic, we all probably laughed at images or videos of people who were wearing plastic water jugs on their heads or putting pot lids in the front of their hoodies to protect themselves from COVID-19. Well, despite their viral moments, those people were kind of on to something.

    Face shields have been used in healthcare settings for a while now. They recently became a staple for medical personnel who have to intubate patients with COVID-19. But face shields are often worn during a wide variety of medical procedures. This includes surgeries or any procedure where bone fragments, blood or other bodily fluids could get into the eyes, nose and mouth.

    A face shield is simply a curved plastic or Plexiglas panel that can be worn over the face. If you’re having a hard time picturing one, think of those old-school transparent visors that you might have rocked in the summer — or a new-school music festival visor that you rock now. A face shield is kind of like that, except the visor part slants down to cover your face and extends slightly beyond the chin.

    “Because they extend down from the forehead, shields protect the eyes as well as the nose and mouth,” says pediatric infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD. The coverage that face shields offer is ideal since the new coronavirus can enter the body through those points.

    Are face shields effective?
    A 2014 study showed that when tested against an influenza-infused aerosol from a distance of 18 inches away, a face shield reduced exposure by 96% during the period immediately after a cough. The face shield also reduced the surface contamination of a respirator by 97%.

    “It protects you, the wearer,” Dr. Esper says. “But if you cough, because this face shield is away from your face, those droplets can still get out better than if you have a mask on.”

    What are the advantages of wearing a face shield?
    If you’re tired of struggling with a mask or don’t enjoy having a pocket of hot air on your face for long periods of time, a face shield offers protection and the sweet relief of fresh air. “You don’t get to feel the breeze on your face, but you do get some fresh air, rather than trying to breathe through a cloth mask,” says Dr. Esper. It’s also easier to talk and most importantly, people can still see your face during interactions.

    Another plus? Not having to adjust anything.

    With masks, we feel the need to touch our faces more. We also find ourselves adjusting them or even pulling them down to talk to people (which we shouldn’t do). Face shields take all of this out of the equation. Most styles are attached to an elastic headband and are easy to wear. You can even wear glasses (minus the fog) or hats with them.

    Face shields are reusable, reasonably priced and easy to clean. Dr. Esper suggests cleaning them with an antibacterial wipe or soap and water.

    What are the disadvantages of wearing a face shield?
    As mentioned earlier, masks absorb droplets when we sneeze or cough. Face shields don’t. Dr. Esper stresses that should you decide to wear a face shield, you’ll need to sanitize it frequently.

    “We know this virus likes to live on plastic a lot better than it likes to live on porous materials like cloth, paper or cardboard,” he says. So again, clean your face shield once you take it off. You can sterilize it with an antibacterial wipe, alcohol pad or good old soap and water.

    Do you need to wear a face shield and a face mask together?
    While surgeons and other skilled medical professionals wear face shields over face masks, it’s not necessary for the average person to do so. However, it’s good to keep social distancing guidelines in mind when wearing your face shield in public to maximize its effectiveness.

    If your face shield cracks or becomes damaged, don’t continue to use it. Many places offer face shields in bulk. This makes it easier for you to pitch the damaged face shield and move on to the next one.

    Full Article


    Face Shields May Be Next Step to Prevent COVID


    May 29, 2020 — Face masks have become commonplace in the effort to combat COVID-19, but some doctors say it is time to take protection a step further and try full face shields as restrictions slowly begin to loosen.

    Face shields are nothing new in medical settings — doctors and nurses who treat coronavirus patients are using them along with standard face masks. Health care professionals are split on whether they should also be worn by children, teachers, and in offices while states reopen.

    “Face shields appear to have a number of advantages: They’re easy to wear correctly and good at blocking droplets,” says Eli Perencevich, MD, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “They’re really a better option for protection.”

    Some experts believe wearing face shields may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by protecting the wearer from droplets carrying the virus.

    Perencevich and his colleagues published a report in JAMA last month, arguing that face shields have more COVID-fighting potential than standard masks when used with increased testing, contact tracing, and social distancing.

    A few things make shields superior, he says. For one, many people wear masks that don’t fit well, so they don’t work as well. They also prompt people to touch their faces more, increasing the risk of viral spread. They leave much to be desired in terms of comfort, he says, and they make it harder to breathe.

    Shields come with the perk of being easily sanitized and reused, says Keith Kaye, MD, a professor of medicine and director of research for the division of infectious diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School.

    Unlike masks, clear shields also allow for better communication — people can read facial expressions, and those who are hearing impaired can read lips, he says.

    “I do think we’re going to see more and more face shield use,” Kaye says. “Particularly as COVID continues to cause problems.”

    While there is not a lot of data on how well masks work, one recent study in China found that wearing a mask at home reduced transmission to other members of the same household by nearly 80%.

    Shields, meanwhile, have been found to successfully block droplets. One cough simulation study in 2014 found that a shield may reduce exposure by 96% when worn within 18 inches of someone coughing.

    In addition, face masks are not meant to protect the wearer — they leave other vulnerable parts of the face exposed, like the eyes. They are meant to keep an asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic person from spreading it to others.

    But not all doctors are sold on everyday use of more extreme protective gear. Dan Kuritzkes, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says the eye coverage that shields provide is likely not necessary for people unless they are providing medical care to COVID-19 patients.

    “In theory, it may be possible that particles could land in someone’s eye and cause infection, but we don’t have good evidence that happens,” he says. “I think the bottom line is for the general public, there’s no reason to be wearing face shields.”

    He also says they may not help prevent airborne transmission, because air that has droplets in it could get sucked under the shield from the bottom opening.

    Face shields are important in health care settings because, in those situations, mucous membranes around the caregivers’ eyes that could come into contact with harmful droplets while they do procedures like intubation, says Timothy Brewer, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Medicine.

    As long as everyone abides by recommendations to wear a face mask, that risk won’t exist for non-health care workers.

    “It could potentially get in someone’s eyes if someone sneezes — that’s why the person sneezing should also be wearing a mask,” Brewer says.

    Meanwhile, other parts of the world are embracing the use of face shields outside of hospitals. School children in Singapore are being given face shields as they head back to classes in the coming days.

    The Infectious Diseases Society of America has listed widespread use of protective gear, including face shields, in the process of lifting restrictions, but the CDC still recommends just face masks for people outside the health care realm.

    Still, people and companies have jumped in to help supply shields to both health care workers and other people at higher risk of catching the virus.

    Amazon announced this month that its engineers are developing face shields to sell on its site after donating almost 10,000 to people on the front lines.

    Other efforts have come from everyday citizens. Katherine Marcano-Bell and her family have converted part of their 1,300-acre pig farm into a shield-making operation, and have delivered them to hospitals, clinics, meatpacking plants, and families who have made specific requests for them.

    “I think it wouldn’t hurt to wear one, especially if you’re sick or immunocompromised,” Marcano-Bell says.

    Full Article

Podcast: Companies adapting amid COVID-19

On this edition of Even Better Western Mass, Dave Madsen talks with the Chief Strategic Officer of a Holyoke company, Universal Plastics, that has shifted production to make masks for health care workers.

Covid 19 Face Shield Designed for Teaching


Covid 19 Face Shield  for Teachers Designed at Universal Plastics

  • Designed specifically with teachers in mind
  • Light and comfortable to wear all day
  • Allows open communication without muffling voice or hiding expressions
  • Skirt provides additional protection without interfering with movement
  • Skirt is washable and re-usable
  • Face Shield is durable and washable, made from .020 RPET
  • Open top allows ventilation, preventing eye glasses from fogging up
  • Adjustable head strap allows a custom fit
  • Manufactured in Holyoke, MA USA
  • Available now

Bassett Healthcare Network Thanks Universal Plastics for Donation

“Many, many thanks for your generous donation of 100 face shields to support Cobleskill Regional Hospital.

We are so grateful to you for recognizing the unprecedented demands COVID-19 has placed on our health-care providers these past several months. Your support is deeply appreciated and helps our doctors, nurses, and front-line staff know that the community is thinking of them as they provide care to our patients during the pandemic.”


Universal Plastics donates PPE to Latrobe first responders, Bethlen Communities

A Latrobe plastics manufacturer recently donated 100 plastic face shields to City of Latrobe first responders and Bethlen Communities, as the coronavirus pandemic spawned a need for personal protective equipment (PPE).

Universal Plastics, located at the Westmoreland Airpark in Unity Township, donated 75 face shields to Bethlen Communities in Ligonier, and 25 to Latrobe first responders.

The company is headquartered in Holyoke, Mass., where it produces about 1,000 face shields per day. Universal Plastics pivoted its production to PPE in mid-March as the pandemic ramped up.

The shields — which were distributed to Latrobe from the Holyoke plant — are made of plastic and include an adjustable strap to secure the shield, and a plastic band that prevents fogging.

“We are very thankful to have this donation here for the city,” Latrobe City Manager Michael Gray said.

The company’s Latrobe plant manufactures medical parts, and was deemed an essential business when many businesses statewide were ordered to temporarily close in March.

“We specialize in medical,” Nicole Stupka, marketing business analyst, said. “We wanted to utilize that experience for the better.”

The face shields are reusable and made from recycled material, Stupka says.

“We are in plastics, so we have the material here,” Stupka said. “It was something that was very easy to pivot in making.”

Beth Green works at Bethlen Communities, and her husband William Green is a quality control manager at Universal Plastics-Latrobe.

The former thanked Universal Plastics for their donation.

“Bethlen Communities is very thankful and appreciative,” she said. “The face shields will help keep the residents of Bethlen Home and Ligonier Gardens, our families that we visit with our home health and hospice, and staff safe.”

In a press release, Universal Plastics states that their goal is: “To give back to their local communities and protect those around them. That starts with their employees. Each employee was told to take one mask for themselves and additional masks for family members that work on the front lines.”

The company was founded by Jay and Pia Kumar eight years ago. They acquired the 150,000-square-foot Middlefield plant, formerly known as Sajar Plastics, in 2017.

“Our goal for manufacturing the face shields was to utilize our medical expertise for the good during this difficult time,” said Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer. “We asked, what can we do? As a family-owned business, we value family, so what better way to support our employees and local communities than by providing them essential PPE.”

Universal Plastics-Latrobe is a custom extrusion blow molder which manufactures for medical, waste management, automotive, safety equipment, lawn and garden, recreational equipment and large capacity potable water bottles.

The Latrobe plant has about 100 employees, according to Stupka.

Read Full Article


Universal Plastics – Latrobe Donation to Bethlen Communities

Universal Plastics – Latrobe donated 75 face shields to Bethlen Communities. We received this wonderful thank you letter from them.


Universal Cited in Boston Globe on Shift to PPE Manufacturing

Universal Plastics has been lauded in a Boston Globe article on June 9  titled “Manufacturers provide lifelines during the pandemic, for their employees as well as front-line workers”.  Universal has been one of several Massachusetts manufacturers who have shifted manufacturing production to manufacture Personal Protective  Equipment to aid front line workers.

The article notes that “For too long, the manufacturing sector has shed jobs to lower-cost locations overseas. The pandemic, however, is underscoring the importance and the economic potential of making products here instead.”

 

Universal produces over 1,000 shields per day at its plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts Production started in mid-March, when the pandemic ramped up.

Universal has been selling the shields at cost – “We don’t want to make a profit,” said Pia Kumar, who with her husband Jay owns the company—to hospitals, nursing homes, elder care facilities and has also been donating shields to first responders.

To read the  article in the Boston Globe, click here

A copy of the article may be found here .

For more information on the line of medical face shields visit this page.

 

Universal Plastics – Middlefield Donates to Local First Responders and Medical Facility

Universal Plastics Pitching In to Produce Productive Gear During The Coronavirus Pandemic at the Rate of 1,000 Face Shields Per Day.

Left to Right: Brittany Sustar, Nursing Operations Manager, Julie Szitas, Chief Nursing Officer, Teresa Criblez, Human Resources, Nicole Stupka, Marketing, Candy Zwolinski, Inventory

The company, headquartered in Holyoke, Massachusetts, has pivoted its production to PPE during this difficult time. Universal Plastics produces about 1,000 face shields per day at its plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Production started in mid-March, when the pandemic ramped up.

Along with selling the shields at cost, Universal Plastics has been donating the masks to those in need, including nursing homes, hospitals and local first reponders.

The shields are made of plastic and include an adjustable strap to secure the shield and a plastic band that prevents fogging. The masks are reusable.

Universal Plastics – Middlefield primarily manufactures medical parts and was deemed an essential business early on.

Universal Plastics – Middlefield is an innovative facility specializing in injection molding, including gas assist molding, and structural foam molding to customers in the medical, laboratory & diagnostic fields. The facility manufactures parts for nurses’ carts, mammogram machines, covers, trays and panels for hospitals and exam rooms on a regular basis. We are very familiar with the medical industry and standards.

Left to Right: Captain Tony Yeropoli, Nicole Stupka, Marketing, Joe Danks

Universal Plastics – Middlefield donated 25 face shields to the Middlefield Fire Department and 75 to UH Geauga Medical Center.

“On behalf of all of our personnel, I’d like to say thank you to Universal Plastics for the donation of the face shields. As the COVID 19 crises began to unfold, healthcare and public safety agencies everywhere experienced supplier shortages of PPE. We consider ourselves fortunate to share working partnerships with companies such as Universal Plastics. Thanks to the company’s production ability and generosity, our personnel have one more tool available to protect ourselves during the performance of our duties.” – Captain Tony Yeropoli, Middlefield Fire Department

A Universal Plastics – Middlefield employee, Candy Zwolinski, has family that works at UH Geauga Medical Center, and was happy to assist with the donation.

Universal Plastics is headquartered in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and operates five factories in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The company was founded by Jay and Pia Kumar eight years ago. They acquired the 150,000-square-foot Middlefield plant, formerly known as Sajar Plastics, in 2017.

As a company, we want to give back to our local communities and protect those around us. That starts with our employees. Each employee was told to take one mask for themselves and additional masks for family members that work on the front lines.

“Our goal for manufacturing the face shields was to utilize our medical expertise for the good during this difficult time. We asked, what can we do? As a family owned business, we value family, so what better way to support our employees and local communities than by providing them essential PPE”. – Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer at Universal Plastics

“Donating is a way of boosting morale at our facilities and to showcase how much of a difference our employees make manufacturing and assembling essential medical parts.” – Nicole Stupka, leads all Marketing efforts at Universal Plastics.

Full Article


Q&A With Senator Eric Lessor & Pia Kumar On PPE Production

Senator Eric Lesser held a live-streamed conversation with Pia Sareen Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer of Universal Plastics Corporation on personal protective equipment, manufacturing, and economic recovery during the #coronavirus #outbreak. Take a listen!

 


Living in Abundance

This is a time of scarcity. Most businesses have too few sales. The companies that have increased demand are experiencing labor shortages, or health and safety challenges. Risk mitigation, cost cutting, and scenario planning are forefront on the minds of leadership teams everywhere.

And that is why now is a time when it’s absolutely critical to run your brand strategy with an abundance mindset.

Bear with me while I digress.

My dad is an Episcopal priest. I grew up in a family that spoke a language of abundance and generosity. We said (well, actually sang) grace at every meal, sometimes to my embarrassment when I had friends over for dinner. We gave of our “time, talent, and treasure.” We volunteered serving meals at the local soup kitchen, a great reminder that not everyone has the security of a hot meal every day. Who we were, what we had, was valued, no matter how meager or imperfect. The promise of short-term gain was never an acceptable excuse to compromise your values.

The funny thing is, I’m actually finding this mindset, this faith, whatever you want to call it, to be a smart brand strategy right now.

I have seen a number of companies look at their operations and see abundance in very effective ways. For example, my friend’s company, Universal Plastics, has been making face shields and intubation boxes, as a way to support frontline workers, and also to raise team morale at a time when everyone is feeling stressed and isolated.

“We had been reading about the dire need at not only hospitals, but nursing homes and elder care homes, and it just blew our minds of the breadth and depth of how much need there was,” said Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer. “We thought, ‘What could we make with the materials we had and have the tools for?’”

This is an abundance mindset. Staying true to their core competency as a custom plastic products manufacturer, they have found a way to amplify that strength. And as a company that truly cares about their workforce and the community, they have found a way to amplify those values, too. They have resisted making these a profit center (which I’m sure might have been tempting as orders rolled in) and are instead selling them at cost.

Our client, Maine Community Bank, kept running brand ads that we had created pre-COVID while others ramped up their ads with conoravirus jargon.

This is an abundance mindset. Their values, their message of stability and strength, and their pride in their community hadn’t changed because of the virus. Their message stayed relevant and authentic even as the world around them changed, so they could steer clear of messaging that sounded opportunistic or hollow. Who they had always been was who they still were now.

I have also found myself with inquiries for work that is slightly outside our core capabilities of brand strategy. It’s probably work that we could do, but it’s not necessarily work that we would do better than other companies, and it’s not our expertise. The temptation to say yes to work like that is real. In a time like this, can I really afford to turn down work?

But I did. I passed a referral on to experts in my network who could more effectively serve that client than I could. There would be other opportunities. Underserving a new client wouldn’t do either of us any good in the long run.

This is an abundance mindset. Staying true to our expertise is more important when times are tough than it is when the economy is booming. If you won’t experience some pain for your core values, are they really your core values?

This is a time when you hear the word “pivot” constantly. But right now, you need to be the judge of what is a pivot that is taking you closer to your value proposition, closer to your long-term goals, and what is a distraction that is actually leading you further away.

It’s tough, but knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a test that every brand is going to have to go through over the next weeks and months.

Approaching these tests, these opportunities and challenges, with a sense of abundance will help you know which path to follow.


Shout Out from a Social Distance to Universal Plastics

Universal Plastics is a custom plastic products manufacturer with expertise in a range of processes, including custom thermoforming, injection molding, and custom blow molding for the medical, aerospace, transportation, and general industrial markets. Starting in 2020, Mayfield Plastics, Premium Plastic Solutions, Sajar Plastics, and Universal Plastics have come together under one name – Universal Plastics. Two locations are in Massachusetts, one in Holyoke that is also corporate headquarters and one in Sutton. All five sites have been given ‘essential services’ status.

Shout Out from a Social Distance to Universal PlasticsUniversal Plastics is manufacturing medical face shields (1000/day), intubation/aerosol boxes, and patient belongings trays for COVID-19. That is great news as we all do our part to move through this pandemic. It’s also great news for their regular customers, employees, and supply chain. The PPE products are new to Universal Plastics, developed just for this purpose, in direct response to need. It usually is a 4 to 6-week process from drawings to prototypes, yet Universal Plastics turned this around in a week. They were able to do so partly because they do a lot of work in medical parts and so have the background for it.

Chief Strategy Officer Pia Kumar states, “We’re not looking to turn a profit here — we’re selling these items at cost and making some donations. We are donating to local cities and organizations based on need, starting with the communities we are located in.  We’re just trying to keep ourselves busy and do the right thing.”

Universal Plastics has been following all the necessary and recommended protocols from government agencies to prevent the spread of the virus to their employees and to the wider community while maintaining their commitment to providing their customers with high quality parts and exceptional customer service. Universal Plastics employees all got face shields first. If anyone in their family was in health care or was in a nursing home, they got one, too.

“There are challenges to managing an essential workforce,” Pia continues. “We’re working hard to keep everyone safe and do more than the CDC requires. It takes quite a bit to do all the research regarding proper operational procedures. For example, there is a right way and wrong way to put on gloves. Once you find the proper procedure, then it must be shared and employees trained. With any new procedure, they must also be enforced. We have lots of visuals to help with this entire process. They are solid reminders for everyone throughout our facilities. Everyone has a temperature check when they come in to start their workday. Work stations have been set up using social distancing, and we have created all the documentation about procedures that are needed. Our employees get weekly emails with updates and changes.”

Pia adds, “Our employees here are making magic. For example, Tooling Department Team Leader Gerry Durand came up with a new way to provide additional hand washing for COVID-19. It’s a large water cooler jug with a spigot and a drum underneath it to catch the used water. This allows us to have more handwashing stations throughout our facilities.”

Pia closes saying, “The whole company has really gotten behind the entire COVID-19 effort. It might sound funny, but I actually feel grateful and optimistic. Business has suffered, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Our employees are really stepping up to meet this challenge and it’s so inspiring. It will stand us well into the future.”

Go to www.universalplastics.com to learn more about the company and all that they are doing.
Governor Baker gives Universal Plastics a shout out for pivoting to PPE.

We applaud and are thankful for Universal Plastics for all their efforts to innovate and provide PPE, and to take good care of their family of employees during these very challenging times.

Full Article


Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker Credits Universal Plastics


View Full Video Here.


Mayor Sarno thanks Universal Plastics for generously donating 100 face shields to the Springfield Police and Fire Departments and frontline personnel.


Universal gives shields to CRH

Universal Plastics is pitching in to produce productive gear during the coronavirus pandemic.

The plastics company switched much of its production to make face shields, and although the shields aren’t being made at Universal’s Howes Cave plant, the former Kintz Plastics facility bought by Universal in 2018, will be a distribution point.

Universal produces about 1,000 shields per day at its plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts, said Pia Kuma, who with her husband Jay owns the company. Production started in mid-March, when the pandemic ramped up.

“We asked, What can we do?” Ms. Kumar said, adding that Universal already produced many plastics for the medical field.

Universal has been selling the shields at cost – “We don’t want to make a profit,” Ms. Kumar said—to hospitals, nursing homes, elder care facilities and has also been donating shields to first responders.

Universal donated 100 shields to Cobleskill Regional Hospital this week.

Knowing they could help during the pandemic was a morale boost for Universal employees, Ms. Kumar said.

“They’ve really rallied around this:, she added. “We had people from the front office helping with assembly. What they’re doing is important.”

Made of medical-grade plastic, a shield covers the face, has a small bag at the bottom to keep from fogging and has a bungee cord in back to keep it in place. The shields are reusable

“One should get you through the pandemic,” Ms. Kumar said.

Shields aren’t Universal’s only contribution to dealing with the pandemic. In its medical production, the company is also making parts for lab diagnostic machines that analyze virus samples and give test results.

“We’ve really been prioritizing out medical work.” Ms. Kumar said.

While Universal has been making medical gear all along, the shields are relatively a new project.

Shields sell for $6 apiece, or for an order of 300 or more, $5 apiece. Universal isn’t set up to sell shields at its Howes Cave plant, Ms. Kumar said, but will do so.

“If people come to us, we will find a way to make it happen.” She said.

Full Article Here


Women’s Fund Helps Universal Plastics Disseminate Masks

Our response to COVID-19 has been informed by you, our community.

Staying connected to you is our top priority. We care about the women and girls in Western MA and have made an effort to stay connected while physically apart.

Our responsive work:

Our CEO, Donna Haghighat, has joined the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Response Team as an ambassador, bringing a gender and racial lens to the relief effort in Western MA.
We have been convening the service providers of Western MA who address domestic violence to collaborate on how to combat the rise in domestic violence in this time of isolation.

Using our voice to bring attention to the vulnerability of low wage workersand bring attention to the impact of the coronavirus on women.
We connected Pioneer Valley Workers Center with Universal Plastics to disseminate protective masks to local essential workers. Thank you to both organizations for their generosity and commitment to protecting community members.

Pia Kumar of Universal Plastics and former board member of the Fund, reached out to Donna, Women’s Fund CEO, after reading Donna’s opinion piece, “Who gets protection on the pandemic frontlines?” Pia was seeking to reach essential workers who would otherwise go unprotected in their everyday work.

Donna connected Pia with Reverend Sawyer who shared her appreciation in the effort to support all those working diligently in the community. Reverend Sawyer shares, “we are so grateful to Universal Plastics for the donation of heavy-duty protective face shields, and to the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts for thinking of our front-line worker members to receive them. We pass the masks out at our weekly food distributions in Springfield and Northampton. Farmworkers are especially grateful for them–many tell us that they do not currently receive protection from Covid-19 at their jobs on local vegetable farms, plant nurseries, and tobacco fields. Together we are protecting our community and our frontline workers.”

One of the workers and leaders of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center shared a photo of her wearing the mask and a kind quote for all to keep with them in their day-to-day during the pandemic.


Read Full Article Here

Universal Plastics shifts to face shields, intubation boxes as aerospace, elective
surgeries decline

Universal Plastics – Albany is making 1,000 face shields a day for hospitals, nursing
homes and fast-food workers to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

Engineers at the Howes Cave company also have begun producing acrylic intubation
boxes to protect physicians and health care workers from infection while they connect
coronavirus patients to ventilators.

The plastics manufacturer shifted production at its Schoharie County factory last month
as demand for products used in aerospace and elective surgeries started to decline.

“We decided to pivot because we just aren’t making any interior parts for the airlines
right now,” said Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer.

Universal Plastics is headquartered in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and operates five
factories in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The company was
founded by Kumar and her husband, Jay Kumar, eight years ago. They acquired the
100,000-square-foot Schoharie County plant, formerly known as Kintz Plastics, in May
2018.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kumars spent two years growing the New York site
by increasing production, installing new equipment and moving excess work from a
plant in Massachusetts. The couple also expanded the payroll from 80 to 100 workers
during that time. The companywide payroll is about 400.

Revenue in Schoharie County had grown over the past two years until orders began a
sharp decline as the pandemic forced the state to order many companies and
employees to stay home.

Aerospace business has declined about 50% since then and medical business has
decreased by 15% to 20%, Pia Kumar said. But she expects the company’s traditional
medical business will pick back up as soon as hospitals begin performing more elective
surgeries.

Universal Plastics – Albany makes plastic covers for medical imaging and diagnostic lab
equipment in addition to interior parts for airplanes and passenger rail cars.

As orders in its main business began to decline, the company’s engineering and
management team decided to shift to protective gear to help address a shortage as the
virus spread across the country.

Many of the face shields have been donated. And the intubation boxes are being sold at
cost.

“It’s a way to keep our people busy,” Kumar said.

It also has given employees a morale boost to know they are helping during a time of
crisis, she said.

To help address a decline in orders, the company has cut spending on inventory and
other expenses, while managing to avoid reductions on labor and benefits, Kumar said.
The company applied for funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program but
has not yet been able to get any assistance.

There has been strong demand for face shields and intubation boxes from more than 20
hospitals, plus nursing homes and elder care centers, Kumar said. The company also
has donated face shields to some fast-food restaurants through the help of some
nonprofit organizations. Kumar would like to find other fast-food companies who are
looking for shields.

Read Full Story Here


Universal Plastics of Holyoke pivots to make face shields, intubation boxes for pandemic needs

HOLYOKE — Universal Plastics is doing its part in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The manufacturer, which specializes in custom thermoforming, is making plastic face shields and acrylic intubation boxes.

“We all just have to do our part in this,” says Pia Kumar, co-owner and chief strategy officer at Universal Plastics.

Universal Plastics Group has been deemed an essential business by the commonwealth, as it makes medical products, including laboratory diagnostic equipment that the state Department of Public Health uses to test for COVID-19, as well as sharps containers, “critical things we have to continue to supply to hospitals,” Kumar explains.

However, in addition to those existing product lines, Kumar, who runs the company with her husband, Jay, and her team wanted to do something more. She credits Peter Crowell, chief operating officer, and Jim Purcell, engineering manager, who began brainstorming with the engineering staff.

“We had been reading about the dire need at not only hospitals, but nursing homes and elder care homes, and it just blew our minds of the breadth and depth of how much need there was,” Kumar says. “We thought what could we make with the materials we had and have the tools for?”

The two ideas that came out of those sessions were the face shields and the intubation boxes.

Universal Plastics face shield
Universal Plastics in Holyoke is putting its talents together to assist in the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, manufacturing InTuBoxes and shields to be used by health care workers and selling them at costs to hospitals and health care facilities.Third Party submitted

“Our people are really, really behind this effort,” Kumar says. The employees want to help others, and these new projects have given them a sense of purpose.

Kumar credits engineer Paul D’Angelo with coming up with the face shield idea.

The intubation boxes were developed by a doctor in Taiwan in response to Covid-19, and Kumar says the team at Universal Plastics adapted the design after talks with anesthesiologists from all over the country, who reached out to the company about the need for these boxes.

The company started producing the face shields earlier this month and are manufacturing 1,000 a day. The reusable face shields are made from recycled plastic that the company had in-house. They cover the entire face and “are easy to wipe off,” Kumar explains.

They have an adjustable strap and a plastic band that prevents fogging.

Universal Plastics is giving the shields to employees and local hospitals and nursing homes in each community they do business.

They also are looking into getting the shields to fast-food workers and retail employees, another population in need of protective gear, she adds. This is part of the company’s focus to try and elevate women, who often work in these lower-wage industries, Kumar explains.

Universal Plastics employees can wear the shields at work or home or give them to family members in the health care field or who are high-risk or compromised. Springfield-based Behavioral Health Network also is using them for its employees.

“Next to an N95 respirator, face shields are the most important tool any healthcare worker can have to protect themselves. Not gloves, not gowns, but face shields … Up until last week our folks had to rely on safety glasses which only offer about 70 percent protection. We have staff who are carrying for ill clients in 24/7 resident programs. Now these staff are much better protected and for that your team has our gratitude and admiration,” Michael Kelliher, vice president of human resources at Behavioral Health Network, posted on Universal Plastics’ website.

Universal Plastics InTuBox
Universal Plastics in Holyoke is putting its talents together to assist in the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, manufacturing InTuBoxes and shields to be used by health care workers and selling them at costs to hospitals and health care facilities.Third Party submitted

The intubation box, which Universal Plastics is calling the InTuBox, is a clear acrylic box that is placed over a patient’s head and chest during the intubation process to protect healthcare workers and prevent the spread of infection. The box has two holes that the doctor can place their arms inside to access the patient and intubate them.

Universal Plastics began producing them at the end of March, and they became available last week. “We have hospitals calling us and putting in orders,” Kumar says.

The boxes, being sold at cost, will not be as “high volume” as the face shields, according to Kumar.

“We just want to cover our costs. We just want to keep our employees busy and do some good,” Kumar says.

The company has approximately 400 employees across its five facilities, including 100 in Holyoke, where the shields and intubation boxes are made.

In addition to medical products, Universal also makes aerospace and industrial items. However, as the aerospace industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, slowing demand, Universal is prioritizing its medical product line, Kumar said.

Read full article here.

Plastics Company Steps Up With COVID-19-Related Products For Healthcare Workers

It’s called an ‘intubation box,’ or an ‘InTuBox,’ to be more specific.

As that name suggests, this is a box that helps shield healthcare workers while they are intubating a patient, thus helping reduce the likelihood of spreading infection.
Pia Kumar says the product was conceptualized by an anesthesiologist in Taiwan, and in what would still be considered limited use, it has proven successful in doing what it was designed to do. And now, the company she serves as president, Universal Plastics in Holyoke, will start to produce them for healthcare providers, with the first boxes due to roll out of the plant on Whiting Farms Road in Holyoke early next week.

Production of the boxes is part of the company’s efforts — which mirror those of manufacturers across the region and, indeed, across the country — to adjust and retool for what many are calling a ‘wartime’ economy, while helping a healthcare sector desperate for essential equipment.

Indeed, in addition to the intubation boxes, the company is also producing face shields that can be used by those in healthcare industry and other sectors as well. Even individuals with compromised immune systems can use them at a time when everyone is trying to reduce their exposure to the dangerous virus.

Production of those shields commenced recently, and the company is on pace to produce roughly 1,000 of them per day, said Kumar, adding that these efforts were inspired by need, and the company’s desire to help meet it.

In a way, the story of how Universal has launched these initiatives — and how it is carrying out this specific mission — is a microcosm of the many-tentacled saga of COVID-19, touching almost every aspect of the pandemic, from the economic impact to the plight of the healthcare community as it girds for days that will be even worse than they are now, to the manner in which companies and individuals are going above and beyond.

Let’s start with the economic impact. Universal, like most every company in every sector, has been hard hit by the pandemic. Some of its major customers are in aerospace, one of the hardest-hit sectors, and many of its products — from seat backs to tray tables to arm rests — wind up in commercial airliners.

“It’s been very tough … we have a good company and a great workforce, and we’ll rebound from this, but this is certainly a very difficult time,” she explained. “Our number-one business is aerospace and airline interiors, and I don’t have to tell you how that’s doing these days, so our work has really slowed down.”

So the company was looking for ways to keep people employed and also contribute to what in many ways has become a war effort, said Kumar, adding that the company already produces a number of products for the healthcare industry — from diagnostic testing equipment to containers for sharp instruments — and has been hard-pressed by those customers to keep producing them in this time of great need.

“We were seeing how this situation was getting worse and how there was a shortage of PPE [personal protective equipment], and we thought about what we could make in-house that we could give to hospitals and other healthcare provides locally and across the country,” she told BusinessWest, adding that two items that quickly emerged were face shields and the intubation boxes.

With the former, it’s a relatively simple product and one that it is certainly in demand. “We offered it around, and we’re getting a lot of interest from a lot of hospitals,” said Kumar. “That’s because these are reusable, they’re durable, and they can used by a number of people.”

She listed doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and workers in nursing homes, among others in the healthcare profession, and even individuals going to the grocery store — although those in healthcare are the company’s first priority.

As for the intubation boxes … as information about the product, which was conceptualized as the COVID-19 virus started its spread, started to filter into the healthcare community, some doctors approached Universal with inquiries about whether it could produce the item.

“It really started just last week,” she explained. “Baystate Medical Center reached out, as did a hospital in Miami, and we just thought the product was practical and made a good deal of sense.”

The company created a prototype and is slated to begin production on April 6, she went on, adding that some orders have been placed for a few hospitals in other markets, and Baystate is currently testing the product.

But producing these items will pose some challenges, said Kumar, noting that many employees at Universal, fearful of the spread of the virus, have not been coming to work.

But production of the face shields and the intubation boxes proceeds as remaining employees press on, assisted by some front-office workers who have stepped into the breach.

“People have rallied behind this PPE effort with the face shield and the intubation boxes,” she told BusinessWest. “Some of the people in our front office are helping with the assembly of these face shields — everyone is pitching in, rallying behind this, and coming together.

“We’re not looking to turn a profit here — we’re selling these items at cost,” she said in conclusion. “We’re just trying to keep ourselves busy and do a little good if we can.”

From all appearances, she and her staff are succeeding with both missions.

Full article: https://businesswest.com/blog/plastics-company-steps-up-with-covid-19-related-products-for-healthcare-workers/ 


Customer Appreciation

“Next to an n95 respirator, face shields are the most important tool any healthcare worker can have to protect themselves. Not gloves, not gowns but face shields. Understandably, hospitals both large and small were getting the lion share of these devices. Up until last week our folks had to rely on safety glasses which only offer about 70% protection. We have staff who are carrying for ill clients in 24/7 resident programs. Now these staff are much better protected and for that your team has our gratitude and admiration.” -Behavioral Health Network Inc

 

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