West Warwick students make, donate medical shields to hospital

WEST WARWICK, RI (WLNE) – Distance learning has taken on a whole new meaning at West Warwick High School, after one assignment turned into a mini manufacturing project to make medical face shields for health care professionals and first responders.

Seth Giguere is one of four students in the Facilities, Operations, and Management program at the school that are using 3D printers provided by the district to make medical shields.

“I really like using these machines and it’s amazing to help a cause like this,” he said. “We work a lot with digital machines and digital fabrication it’s one of the major parts of the program.”

Giguere volunteered to use the 3D printer and participate in the project.

“Knowing that theres a need for this and knowing that I can help fulfill that need is just something that feels awesome,” he said.

It all started with an assignment from Michael Shunney, Giguere’s teacher.

“It happened to be about 3D printing face shields to try and make a difference,” Shunney said. “Most of the students who are doing this about half of them are not in my class anymore. So they’re doing this on top of their regular distance learning so they’re just taking on this work because they feel they’re going to make a difference.”

Shunney and his students turned the blueprints for these medical shields into a reality once they got permission to take home the school’s 3D printers.

It takes six hours to make four shields.

Once the molding from the printer is finished, the students hole-punch a piece of transparency that will be used as the mask, attach it to the frame, and use a rubber band to hold the shield on a worker’s face.

“We could’ve designed our own but being time sensitive we just decided to download a model that was already available, fit it into our machines and mass produce as quickly as possible,” Shunney said. “When you hand it over to one of the health care professionals they really appreciate it.”

On Wednesday, Shunney and Giguere dropped off 30 shields to Kent County Hospital.

The hospital had already inspected the shields days before, and approved them for use as soon as this week.

“This is pretty solid. we can use this,” said Chief Medical Officer at Kent County Hospital, Dr. Paari Gopalakrishnan. “We’re in a national pandemic with a huge shortage of supplies. So everyone is trying to be as creative and innovative as possible.”

“This is one of our crucial pieces of equipment and it’s an international need right now and we all need literally thousands of them,” said Chief Nursing Officer Judy Thorpe. “It’s more valuable than gold.”

The hospital will sanitize the shields before putting them to use in the hospital.

The students have produced a combined 126 shields and will also be handing them out to local police and fire departments.

Other students involved in the project are Jake Spencer; grade 11, Johanna Gallo; grade 11 and Alec Montaquila; grade 12.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island, Warwick, Your Health