News Article

Responding to COVID-19 PPE Needs

During this COVID-19 pandemic, Oaks Christian School is responding to community needs by utilizing the 10,000 square foot IDEA Lab, which opened this past fall, to fabricate face shields to help bridge the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) shortage gap facing healthcare workers who sometimes need to wear the same mask for up to 12-hour shifts.

Led by OCS Engineering Teacher Greg Gillis-Smith, a team of Oaks Christian staff have been fabricating face shields on the 3D printer in the IDEA lab. Chief Operating Officer Mike Parkinson, IDEA Lab Floor Manager Rick Coyle, and High School Spiritual Life Director Rich Gregory have kept the printer going to produce roughly one shield every 45 minutes.

Gillis-Smith attended an engineering conference last summer at MIT and saw on Facebook that his roommate from the conference was printing out face shields for medical professionals. Gillis-Smith knew the IDEA Lab could produce those, as well, and so before the campus was totally shut down, he enlisted the help of sophomore Zach Labnow to set up the process.

At the same time, Gregory was talking to his friend Justin Homze, a certified nurse’s aide at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, who had just volunteered to be part of COVID-19 response team at his hospital.

“Rich Gregory reached out to me to see if we could produce some face shields, and I knew this could work. I contacted my roommate from the MIT conference, and he sent me the file for the frame, and then we purchased the clear transparency film for the shields, and we were in business,” Gillis-Smith said.

The team is hoping to get a second printer up and running soon to double their output: the goal is to eventually produce 100-plus shields. But, in the meantime, as the first set of shields roll off the assembly line, they are sent to health care workers.

Ginny Eddy, a local home healthcare worker who works for Buena Vista Home Health and Hospice in Newbury Park, was one of the first to pick up a shield. As a long-time occupational therapist, she works hands-on with patients in their home, helping them with physical exercise, one-on-one therapy, and their self-care.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea Oaks Christian had to really help us health care workers with this COVID virus being so unpredictable. It is good to have as much PPE as we can,” she shared.