Workers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Digital Publishing and Printing Services are shifting their resources towards making masks for health workers. The masks are delivered to the UW Hospital on Highland Avenue, which then distributes them to the UW Hospitals that need them.
The pandemic has increased the demand at Madison’s UW Hospital for personal protective gear, including masks. According to Geoffrey Larson, the services’ director, he was already using some of the materials needed to create the masks.
“I already had thousands of sheets of the clear, face-shield material that [is being used],” Larson says. “My business manager and some other folks started looking around on the internet [and] within two days we had a prototype. We literally scrounged up enough consumables to start making these in volume on Monday. We delivered 200 on Monday to UW-Health, another 500 on Tuesday, yesterday we delivered 1,200, and we hope to deliver a minimum [of] a thousand a day as long as they need them.”
Larson also says they will soon be manufacturing the masks for university labs as well.
The move is just the latest example of businesses in the Madison area adapting to the ongoing pandemic. Many have either closed their doors or restricted their activities, but according to Chelsey Dequaine-Jerabek, Social Media and Marketing Director at Madison newspaper Isthmus, some businesses have changed their behavior to more directly address the pandemic.
“Restaurant’s like Salvatore’s Tomato Pies [are] using their food to supply free meals for hospital workers and healthcare workers,” says Dequaine-Jerabek. “State Line Distillery had made a hand sanitizer that they had out in their tasting room that people could use. It wasn’t bottled and being sold, but they were kind of repurposing and using their alcohol to do something similar. TacoCat Creations started knitting face masks using some of their products. They have a limited amount of supplies, so right now they’re just making them for friends and family. But, if they had more supplies, they would love to make them for healthcare workers.”
In March, UW Hospital sent most of its volunteers home and sent out a request for other volunteers who could help sew face masks. They recently said they would not be using volunteers because they had found a manufacturer who would work with them.
Larson says he doesn’t know if he is the manufacturer mentioned by UW hospital, but he was happy to do everything he could to help.
“I think they’re probably better off than most of the smaller hospital systems around the state,” Larson says. “I’m also working with the campus, which, I believe, [is] working with the state. As far as I know, we’ll be working with whoever campus decides we need to do outreach with. If I can increase our production, I will definitely do that.”
Yesterday, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers says the state has received its second shipment of protective equipment-including masks-from the federal government. These will be distributed to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities throughout Wisconsin.