New Orleans workshops help build PPE for healthcare workers

PPE supply low around the country

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -It's not what Peter Seltzer would normally create in his workshop, but he says it's one of the biggest projects he's ever had.

“I have advanced manufacturing equipment here, and in the past couple of days we’ve reoriented our studio, retooled and are now producing protective face shields for a hospital system in New Orleans,” Seltzer said.

On his days off, Seltzer volunteers as a paramedic. He says seeing how scarce personal protective equipment or PPE is for first responders, it scared him.

“I will work every single minute of the day, as long as I can and I will have my staff do the same thing so we can help people on the front line,” Seltzer said.

Seltzer collaborated with other shops across the metro area, and together they’ve refitted equipment to build all the pieces necessary for these face shields, with guidance from an area hospital.

They’ll make more than 1,000 face shields a day to deliver to a hospital, with plans to increase production even more.

“This is a crazy event people all over New Orleans realize this is a disaster unfolding, and people I know who know lasers and different tech people have started communicating and calling each other in and saying we need to do something urgently,” Seltzer said.

“That can only go so far we need more PPE to supply hospitals and we need it quickly,” Dr. Joseph Kanter said.

Dr. Joseph Kanter with the State Health Department says for those who can refit equipment to build more PPE and hospital equipment, they should do so with direction from a hospital to make sure they can use it as the need will only increase when the number of New Orleans Covid patients surges past bed capacity.

“It’s not a great picture, we expect within the first week of April to have more patients to care for in the New Orleans region then we do have space in the hospital,” Kanter said.

Kanter says this will require three things: for hospitals to treat more patients within their walls, for long-term care facilities to treat more patients, and creating a third stand-up hospital facility inside the Morial convention center.

“The physical space is often not the limiting agent it’s the personnel to staff it and it’s the supplies you need to staff it,” Kanter said.

Supplies like PPE will be needed more than ever, as Seltzer pledges to keep these machines running as long as those on the front line need him to.

“I don’t know what it was like during World War II, but I imagine it was all hands on deck and I will do whatever it takes,” Seltzer said.

Kanter says while the numbers are concerning, that's again why city and state leaders have imposed such stringent social distancing measures.

He says the best way to bring down surge numbers is still social distancing and for people to stay home.

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