Donation to MS Polymer Institute Supplies Three Nursing Homes with N99-style Masks
Mon, 06/01/2020 - 17:20pm
Three long term health care facilities in the Pine Belt are better equipped to protect residents and employees in the face of COVID-19 thanks to a partnership between The University of Southern Mississippi’s Mississippi Polymer Institute (MPI) and worldwide chemical manufacturer Oxiteno.
On the onset of COVID-19, MPI and others at USM created a respirator mask through 3-D printing, called the Hub Mask. MPI was asked to help and was able to purchase larger scale thermoforming equipment to scale up the operation. Oxiteno, which has a research and development facility at USM, learned of the mask productions and generously donated $2,000 recently to further aid in the effort of delivering these masks to local, high-risk populations.
“We reached the point in our production of the masks that we had the capacity to start creating larger volumes for people outside of this area, but I wanted to be sure we kept serving the people of Hattiesburg first if there was a need,” said MPI’s director, Dr. Monica Tisack Kathmann. “When Oxiteno made their donation, they stressed the importance to help the local community. When asked, Mayor Toby Barker immediately said for us to reach out to the local assisted living facilities, and they very graciously took our offer. Elder care facilities are one of the hardest hit populations in Mississippi, and, undoubtedly, Oxiteno’s contribution is making a tremendous difference.”
The MPI and Oxiteno delivered 300 total Hub Masks to Methodist Senior Services at Wesley Manor, Brookdale Hattiesburg, and Bedford Care Center of Hattiesburg—adding to the more than 1,600 masks previously created and distributed to local medical facilities. The masks delivered to these assisted living facilities were more developed than the original Hub Mask, thanks to time and continued production, and even came in a variety of sizes to better serve those using it. The mask molds are created using 3-D printing, plaster, and silicone and utilize a thermal molding process known as thermoforming. Plastic sheets are formed over the molds to create the masks. The mask as-made does not include a filter but has a “hub” that acts as the standardized connection port. When in use, the masks are hooked up to an existing n99 filter, which is a uniform system in medical facilities nationwide. The connector port will fit to a universal CPAP bacterial and viral filter that is rated at 99.99% efficiency, which is widely available to consumers.
“We at Bedford Care Center of Hattiesburg are so appreciative of the respirator masks donated by USM and Oxiteno. Covid-19 rapidly changed the way we provide care to our residents and having the additional masks was truly a blessing to us in such a trying time,” said Bedford Care administrator Shawn Carpenter. “We are looking forward to the day when we no longer have to wear masks to care for our residents, but for right now we are thankful to have such a wonderful local source for PPE.”
“Oxiteno is committed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring the supply of vital products needed for the well-being of the communities where it operates. We are glad that our contribution is making a difference. We thank the Mississippi Polymer Institute (MPI) for the partnership and for assisting local health care facilities,” said Alberto Slikta, Oxiteno’ s COO in the USA.
Just as the threat of COVID-19 continues, so does the work of innovators at USM.
“As people need the masks, we will certainly make them. Anyone can buy them today by contacting MPI directly,” Kathmann assured. “We were happy to become involved and take the activity from makerspace to a more commercial operation. It’s a great experience and rewarding to see the immediate impact.”