Science Center Educators 3D Printed PPE for Local Nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center

April 9, 2020

Science Center Educators 3D Printed PPE for Local Nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center

FoundCare, Inc. Staff Grateful for Delivery, Continue Testing for Coronavirus

(West Palm Beach, Fla.) – As headlines continue to underscore just how scarce PPE supplies are for medical providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Florida Science Center took matters into their own hands. This Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m., Science Center educators will deliver 130 protective face shields to the medical team at FoundCare Community Health Center, 2330 South Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach.

Science Center educators typically spend their days teaching budding scientists ages 8 and up to use more than a dozen 3-D printers the organization keeps in its Stiles-Nicholson STEM Education Center on site. On most days, workshops include instruction on a web-based CAD (computer-aided design) program that allows students to learn the skills needed to manipulate 3-dimensional objects in a 2-dimensional workspace. These days, those educators have extra time on their hands while the Science Center remains closed.

The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation is a major funder of the 3D printing project. “The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation enthusiastically supports the Science Center's mission of "opening every mind to science,’” said David Nicholson, a trustee and supporter of the namesake Stiles-Nicholson Foundation. “We owe the improvements in our quality of life to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), and the Science Center is delighted to partner with FoundCare to help our neighbors in this time of need. The 3-D printing of face shields is just a small example of coupling modern technology with creativity to create solutions for today's challenges. The greater the number of students who choose STEM as a career, the faster progress will be made to resolve these medical and other challenges.”

“For the design, our educators opted to use the model from a well-known 3D printing company called Prusa,” said Kate Arrizza, SFSCA CEO. “Their design is open-sourced and free, which means that we are able to modify it to fit our needs. Running in shifts of one person per day while social distancing, we're able to produce about 24 face shields per day, if everything runs smoothly. We're finding that at least one or two fail every cycle, so realistically we can print about 110-115 per week. This first batch of 100 face shields is beginning our work in the community as we have the ability to deliver more to organizations in need.”

This Friday, Science Center educators Chris Ortiz and Chris Pait who were instrumental in the design and production of the face shields will personally deliver 100 units to the staff at FoundCare Community Health Center – the site of Palm Beach County’s first drive-thru testing for COVID-19.

“We are incredibly grateful for this thoughtful and vital donation,” said Yolette Bonnet, CEO for FoundCare. “Part of the reason we had to limit our testing was because our PPE supplies were running low. Our medical staff and entire team are truly touched that the Science Center would reach out with this donation. We are also grateful for Palm Beach State College for their donation of PPE as well.”

FoundCare announced its testing operations on Sunday, March 15 and by Monday, March 16 they had received more than 6,000 calls requesting an appointment for COVID-19 testing. The West Palm Beach based FQHC was clear that patients must call for a prior appointment and answer screening questions in order to be scheduled. Patients who did not meet those requirements were turned away from the testing site.

By the end of Thursday, April 9, FoundCare will have conducted over 700 COVID-19 tests. Testing will continue for those who hold appointments.

“We hope to receive additional supplies soon,” said Bonnet. “In the meantime, we encourage patients to contact the Florida Department of Health for other options for testing.”

FoundCare, Inc., celebrating 35 years in the community, uses a sliding fee scale based on household size and income, and no one is turned away for inability to pay. With several locations throughout Palm Beach County, FoundCare offers such one-stop services as pediatric and adult primary care, new women’s health services, chronic disease management, behavioral health services, dentistry, pharmacy, laboratory services and x-rays.

For more information about FoundCare visit www.foundcare.org or call 561-HEALTHY (432-5849).  To learn more about 3-D Printing and other workshops available at the South Florida Science Center, visit www.sfsciencecenter.org.

 

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