Access to limited materials inspires inventive approach
Cory Thompson, an Emergency Room (ER) nurse at St. Anthony
Regional Hospital in Carroll and a 2013 graduate of the DMACC
Carroll Campus Nursing Program, knew that he and his fellow health care
workers were going to need more personal protective equipment (PPE) during the
COVID-19 pandemic. And he also knew exactly who to call – his dad.
DMACC Emeritus Industrial-Electro Mechanical Technology
Professor Jack Thompson was in the midst of remodeling his Carroll home when
his son called.
“I had several dust masks, but no safety glasses,” said
Thompson, reflecting on his immediate thoughts. “After some thinking, I asked
my son if (the hospital workers) could use a full face shield, and he said that
would be the preferred type of protection.”
The elder Thompson sprang into action, first taking a closer
look at his DMACC welding gear. He noticed that the headgear was in good shape
but the plastic lenses weren’t looking so good.
His next call? The local welding supply shop, Matheson
Industrial Gas Supplier in Carroll.
Matheson didn’t have any replacement lenses for the type of
headgear Thompson was calling about, but they did have an older version of the
lenses on hand. Thompson set up an appointment to look at the lenses and was
excited when he determined he could cut them to fit.
Thompson then called DMACC Carroll Campus Provost Dr. Joel
Lundstrom to ask if he could use the DMACC headgear, explaining how it
would be used at the
“I immediately thought it was a good cause and was needed
for the safety of the medical community in Carroll,” Lundstrom said.
Thompson returned to the supplier and purchased enough of
the older version lenses to begin his new project – which included carefully
modifying the older lenses to fit the new headgear. This meant cutting the
lenses from a twist-lock fit to instead fit a snap-in fit with two small bolts
to hold the lenses in place.
“Before I could put the lenses into the headgear, I had to
disassemble the headgear and clean them, so I ran them through three cycles in
my dishwasher,” Thompson said. “I then used a green pad to make sure all of the
surfaces were clean of any metal that may have been imbedded in the plastic. It
also took about an hour of scrubbing to clean my dishwasher after I was done.”
After reassembling the face shields, he then called his son,
who picked them up and took them to St. Anthony. It proved to be a popular
“By providing us with face shields, you are not only
protecting our staff, you are protecting the patients and community we’re
privileged to serve”, said Bailee Schleisman, RN, who works as an Infection
Preventionist at St. Anthony Regional Hospital.
Trish Roberts, Director of the St. Anthony Regional Hospital
Foundation, said many health care providers have had a difficult time getting
personal protective equipment from traditional suppliers. She said the state
and federal government have limited supplies, and most of those limited
supplies are going to COVID-19 hot spots.
“During this challenging time when PPE is in short supply,
we sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support from our community,” Roberts
said. “People are providing protective equipment and supplies that
typically are used in different settings. These items are now being used
effectively by our frontline healthcare staff.”
Thompson, meanwhile, was just getting started.
“The next day while watching a video on YouTube, I noticed a
simpler version of the (face shields) that I had just rebuilt,” Thompson said.
“I asked my son if the hospital could use more shields, and his response was
‘most definitely, yes.’”
Thompson went back to Matheson to see if he could purchase
their remaining lenses, but unfortunately, that was not an option due to a
freeze on sales of safety equipment due to priority needs elsewhere.
After returning home, Thompson was sitting in his living
room and considering alternative options when he noticed a poster he had
framed. He started thinking the plastic might be flexible enough to wrap around
his head – and so the deconstruction began. He knew he needed some padding for
the forehead, so he looked to Velcro. He also realized the items needed to be
sanitized, so the ability to disassemble it for cleaning was very important.
The next step was figuring out how to cut the plastic.
“I tried a scissors first but the plastic was too brittle,
so I turned to a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel,” Thompson said. “It worked
but I figured out later that an oscillating saw works even better.”
Thompson said it takes him about an hour to make each face
shield, and he has made 26 to date, including the initial batch of six that
went to the hospital. He said he has about $300 invested so
“As far as making more, materials are getting hard to find,
but I will keep changing and making them,” Thompson said.
“This is part of a larger DMACC effort to
support the communities that we serve,” Provost Lundstrom said.
For more information, contact: Jack Thompson
(712)-790-0128 or Trish Roberts (712) 794-5223