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Sault businesses aiming to get protective face shields to healthcare workers

Maker North retooling to produce face shields for frontline workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Businesses in Sault Ste. Marie are beginning to mobilize in an effort to supply the city’s frontline workers with protective face shields during the COVID-19 crisis.   

Maker North is in the process of retooling its 3D printing and manufacturing business in order to produce face shields. 

“This makerspace was basically a courtesy to the public when I first opened it, to let everybody [use it] if they need to use it,” said Maker North founder Joseph Bertrand. “Now, it’s a vital piece of our infrastructure. We need this to save lives, you know? We really do.” 

Bertrand says that Maker North has been contacted by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Sault Area Hospital within the past week about producing protective face shields for healthcare workers. 

Earlier this week, a crew of three people – Bertrand, Ian Ingram and Maker North chief designer and technician Riley Drover – began using the 3D printing and lasercutting capabilities available at the makerspace to produce the shields and brackets for the protective face shields. 

With the equipment it has now, Maker North estimates that it can produce around 800 face shields within a 30-day period. 

“If I get the machines that I was supposed to – I ordered them last week – we could ramp that up again to maybe 1,200 in 30 days,” Bertrand said. 

It’s expected that the prototype of the locally made face shield could be reviewed by Sault Area Hospital as soon as Friday, but as it stands right now, there’s no deal or agreement between the hospital and Maker North in place. 

“I think they’ll be happy with it – we’ve done the testing already,” said Bertrand. “I’m not saying it’s a sold deal, but these are as good as you’re going to get in a short amount of time anywhere on the planet.”

But now, Maker North is looking for funding. 

The business has reached out to the city, the economic development corporation, and the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre in an effort to find additional funds in order to sustain its protective face shield-making venture– and perhaps expand its footprint in the future.   

“The intent of this place is to do good and to help people – so helping them, this is the best way I know,” Bertrand said. 

Local businesses to donate 100,000 dust masks to hospital, healthcare facilities

Another business in Sault Ste. Marie has drummed up support from local contractors, pooling their resources in order to donate 50,000 dust masks to Sault Area Hospital and another 50,000 dust masks to healthcare facilities locally. 

Adam Hay, who works in outside sales for Wolseley Canada Inc. in Northern Ontario, said the drive to collect dust masks began last Wednesday. 

By Thursday, Wolseley and a number of local contractors had accumulated nearly 44,000 dust masks.  

“It just kind of took off, and I kept getting more and more responses,” he said.  

Hay realizes that the dust masks donated aren’t the standard N95 masks that are in high demand, but they could potentially assist healthcare workers at Sault Area Hospital and other local healthcare facilities in the interim.

“We want to donate to Sault Area Hospital, but we also want to help out any other facility that requires them,” Hay said. 

The following is a list of businesses that contributed to the drive for masks: 

  • Wolseley Canada Inc. - Sault Ste. Marie 
  • S&T Group 
  • DNM Plumbing and Heating Ltd.
  • King’s Plumbing and Heating
  • Carmen Muto Plumbing and Heating
  • McLeod Bros. Mechanical Ltd.
  • RepAire
  • Steel City Gas
  • Propane Plus
  • Wardlaw Heating and Cooling
  • Commercial/Algoma Heating
  • Topline Ltd.
  • SJC Fireplace and Gas Services
  • Kenagy Mechanical Inc. 

The masks could be delivered to the hospital and other local facilities as early as Tuesday.

“I was amazed. I’m still extremely happy with how this all transpired,” Hay said.

SooToday reported earlier this week that Sault Area Hospital is currently looking for protective masks, even if they're of the handcrafted variety. 

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