It’s an idea workers at Kitimat General Hospital (KGH) are going to be all ears for.
A local millwright is using his 3D printer to make mask straps that protect healthcare professionals’ ears by shifting tension from behind them to the back of the head.
Devin Baer said he first got the idea when his wife and sister, who both work at KGH, mentioned to him the masks they were using in response to COVID-19 were causing pressure aches over the course of a full shift.
Baer, who said he has always liked tinkering with 3D printers and improving on designs, felt obligated to see what he could do about improving the straps.
“We all need to help each other out and do what we can, and this was something that I could do to help,” said Baer, who also developed head supports to attach to a number of face shields which have been donated to the hospital.
“I’m so proud of Devin,” said Baer’s wife Ashlee, who works in the KGH lab. “He’s very modest about what he does, but hopefully he knows what a huge, positive difference he has made to all of us working to serve our community during this pandemic.”
Baer’s employer ServcoCanada is also stepping up to fulfill the other side of the medical equation, donating 10,000 N95 masks to KGH.
To that point, Baer said it’s important during the pandemic for locals to look after one another in any way they can.
“I just like improving the design of products – that’s my jam,” says Baer. “But helping out can just be asking a neighbour if you can pick up some groceries for them. We all need to do what we can.”
Meanwhile, Millwrights Local 2736 business manager Miro Maras said he is impressed by both Baer and ServcoCanada. “On behalf of the entire union, we are proud of Devin’s ingenuity and that he has improved working conditions for our frontline health care workers,” said Maras. “We also appreciate the generosity of ServcoCanada stepping up in donating masks. These generous acts are what carries us through these times.”
N95 masks have become a contentious topic during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the U.S. previously banning exports to Canada in an apparent effort to consolidate its own supplies. The two countries have since come to a deal which will allow for Canada to continue to receive the masks from their American factories. Despite this, a number of Canadian officials including B.C.’s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry have said over past weeks hospitals will begin to use community-donated cloth masks in response to PPE shortages across the country.
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