SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Katherine Hollenback, an engineering and technology teacher at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School wanted to help protect healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID 19 pandemic. She found that Protective Face Shields were needed by doctors and nurses, and using her technology expertise, she gained permission to take the 3-D printers from her SPFHS classroom to her home. 

After researching various shield designs, Hollenback chose to create the Budmen shield since that design is approved by the National Institute of Health, uses accessible materials and is comfortable. Along with her family’s 3-D printer, Hollenback and her family have had three 3-D printers running at their home pretty much 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since March 27. 

In addition to the shields, they have also begun making ear relief straps for greater comfort when wearing the shields. To date, they have made over 200 shields and have been distributing them to doctors and nurses throughout New Jersey. Over 20 family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and strangers have contributed their time, money and supplies, including the loan of an additional printer to aid in the success of this project.

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Hollenback has connected with the North Jersey – SOMA 3-D Printer Alliance to collaborate with others across the state to share resources. She and her team plan to continue to create and provide PPE for the healthcare workers in this time of need.

Because medical masks have been in such shortage, another Scotch Plains-Fanwood initiative began in March to create homemade cloth masks for medical staff who need protection but do not need the highest level of protection and do not have direct contact with COVID 19 patients. With the coordination efforts lead by Barbara Prestridge, the SPF Arts Integration Specialist, 600 cloth masks have been sewn by SPF staff, their families and neighbors.

Fabrics and elastics were donated from their home supplies and shared among the group of 25 sewers. Following the guidelines provided by the Atlantic Health System, the completed masks were delivered to Overlook Medical Center in Summit, Lyons VA Hospital in Basking Ridge, The Chelsea Assisted Living Facility in Fanwood, and to the SPF bus drivers who continue to deliver meals to student homes in the school district. 

These sewing efforts will continue until medical facilities have the N95 and surgical masks that they need. Additionally, these cloth masks now have a new demand as the general public has been directed to wear masks when leaving their homes. 

"As we all look to protect ourselves and one another during this pandemic, please be sure to wear a mask when in public. This spirit of joining together to support and protect everyone in our community is what makes Scotch Plains and Fanwood wonderful towns," said Dr. Joan Mast, superintendent of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood SPFK12 School District.

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