Local Army Depot pivots to assist WellSpan during COVID-19

Carlisle/West Shore

Shawn Hind, Letterkenny Army Depot (center) discusses isolation gown materials with (from left) James Eichelberger, WellSpan, Srinath Asuri, WellSpan, and Logan Robinson, LEAD at the LEAD upholstery shop on April 22, 2020. LEAD is currently producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for WellSpan to help combat COVID-19. (U.S. Army photo by Pam Goodhart)

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Letterkenny Army Depot’s upholstery shop recently switched gears from its military mission to produce personal protective equipment for WellSpan Health system.

As potential supply shortages loomed ahead of WellSpan Health’s COVID-19 journey, they took a proactive approach by fostering relationships to secure necessary resources needed to care for communities and staff, by partnering with Letterkenny Army Depot.

Letterkenny says it didn’t take long for them to configure its capabilities and adapt procedures for the new project that will create 70,000 isolation gowns for WellSpan.

Letterkenny Army Depot is the organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. 

“The level of community engagement and support of the health system in an unselfish manner has been overwhelming. Letterkenny has been the epitome of that,” said Keith Noll, senior vice president-chief administrative officer for WellSpan Health.

Members of the hospital’s team visited Letterkenny Army Depot to learn more about its manufacturing capabilities. Typically, the upholstery shop at Letterkenny focuses on production of items such as canvas tents, kitchens and vinyl products.

While it is a shift from the tents and vinyl products the shop routinely repairs and produces in support of defense programs, this Public-Private Partnership that helps the local community prepare and respond to COVID-19 is a win-win endeavor, said Letterkenny Army Depot Commander Col. Greg Gibbons.

“As part of the Army’s Organic Industrial Base, Letterkenny is prepared to respond when the nation calls,” Gibbons said. “Part of that is response is flexibility – and we’re proud to provide a solution for our local community.”

Letterkenny Army Depot’s Manufacturing and Fabrication Division Chief George Coble said directorates across the depot worked to reallocate resources and staff the upholstery shop with 36 employees who began production on May 1.

“As a result of our capabilities, we can adjust to changing requirements, and this is what we have done,” Coble said. “We can support the warfighter while pivoting to support the health care industry during this state of pandemic.”

“This is not our normal course of business, but we are honored to be able to assist the local medical community. Public-Private Partnerships allow the Army’s Organic Industrial Base facilities like Letterkenny Army Depot to manufacture or sell products or services to the private sector. However, such a partnership with the medical community is unprecedented,” said Dale McClanahan, Letterkenny Army Depot’s chief of business development.

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