Local doctor starts company to give away personal protective equipment

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HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — Getting personal protective equipment is still a challenge for many nursing homes and essential workers.

That’s why one local doctor started a company to fill the void with 3D printed masks and face shields.

Doctors, designers and filmmakers from across the country make up the team of volunteers behind the new company called Droplet Guard, based in Hershey, with the goal of saving lives.

Dr. Paula Henau is an asthma, allergy and immunology doctor with Penn State Health.

When she’s not seeing patients, she’s figuring out how to get personal protective equipment to others.

“We are trying to triage and figure out where the needs are and provide to those areas,” Henau said.

Right now, she said those areas include nursing homes without COVID-19 cases.

“So we’re trying to go from the bottom up while the Pennsylvania Department of Health is really helping those that are already being affected,” Henau said.

Using 13 3D printers, she and her team are making filtered facemasks and face shields.

“They filter out particles in a way that is efficient for the virus and I think are comparable to a surgical mask, if not better,” Henau said.

Thousands of masks have been donated to grocery store workers and other front line employees in the midstate.

But just as important, Henau said, is making sure families don’t spread the virus at home.

“One of our goals has been working with the medical student tracking team for COVID here at Penn State Hershey to try to get equipment to people that test positive,” Henau said.

The designs are also freely accessible to anyone with a 3D printer. She said the more people helping, the better.

“It is truly people all over being good hearted and wanting to do good for our local community,” Henau said.

Droplet Guard is an LLC, but Henau said they’re operating on a not-for-profit basis.

She said 100% of donations will be used to purchase materials and printers.

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