ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Healthcare workers across the country have sounded the alarm on the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks and medical face shields. In St. Louis, local hospitals say at the moment they have enough supplies, but that hasn’t stopped creative St. Louisans from looking for ways to help.
“The light bulb just kind of went off and I thought, why don’t we do this here at home,” said David Cervantes, a local maker after seeing prototypes of face shields.
Using 3-D printers and laser cutters, Cricut or other vinyl cutters, Cervantes and other makers in St. Louis are crafting these much-needed face shields for nurses, EMTs and doctors.
“We have now pooled over 15 printers and six laser cutters so we can pump out our initial goal of 300 faceshields for Barnes-Jewish Hospital,” explained Cervantes.
They dropped off the first batch on Sunday. They are looking for donations of funds and material to keep moving forward with additional masks.
Around town, sewers are gathering up fabric to sew face masks for nurses and healthcare workers.
“I felt like I wasn’t doing enough and I felt like I needed to do something,” said Meghan Hardesty.
Like many, she saw the patterns for face masks on social media and grabbed her sewing machine to help where she could.
“I had some nurses from a couple hospitals that are ER nurses reach out personally asking if that was something I could do for them,” said Hardesty.
Several hospitals News 4 reached out to say at this point they could not accept donated masks, whether store bought or handmade.
“We cannot accept homemade masks because they don’t meet FDA standards. As far as other supplies, we currently are not looking for donations but if that changes we’ll let you know,” said Joe Poelker, spokesperson for Mercy Hospital.
A website shows how to make the masks and also connects people to hospitals and organizations in need. So far no Missouri organizations are listed.
Salman Shah, co-founder of Smile Brilliant, is hoping to use his connection to suppliers to help bring more N95 masks to St. Louis.
“What we’re trying to do is leverage our contact basically and get it here, for us right now it’s an urgent time,” explained Shah.
Smile Brillant is a St. Louis-based teeth whitening company. They wouldn’t be making the masks but instead connecting their suppliers who do make masks with St. Louis-area hospitals.
“I’m talking to friends in the medical field, I’m talking to family who are in the medical field, people who don’t have masks right now is a serious concern," Shah said. "That’s where it hits me, where I have to make a difference right now.”
Shah’s company is donating the first 10,000 masks and have created a link on their website for others to donate. They hope to get the first shipment in this week. It costs around $20 for eight masks and shipping.
At SSM Health, a spokesperson said they have a team currently assessing the supply needs and looking at how the community can be involved. They have already received donations of masks and goggles from construction companies.
“The last few days we’ve been hearing from individuals who want to donate materials. While we greatly appreciate such generosity and thoughtfulness, we ask that items not be brought directly to the hospitals at this time,” said an SSM Health spokesperson.
The CDC recommends using cloth masks in grocery stores and pharmacies to slow the spread.
A GoFundMe was made for those who want to donate.
If your organization is looking for masks or is working on ways to help the shortage, emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org.