U of I, Carle Health partner to create PPE products

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) – The University of Illinois worked with Carle Health to design personal protective equipment (PPE) and create sterilization processes for central Illinois hospitals during the pandemic. 

A Monday press release said a team of engineers, physicians, researchers and designers from both organizations worked to fabricate N-95 respirator masks, disposable face shields, disposable and reusable gowns, and reusable surgical face masks. The latest creations are in addition to face shield kits announced in mid-April.

“Local healthcare providers tested prototypes of each product, and designs were modified based on user feedback. Finished, sterilized products will be delivered at cost to Carle Foundation Hospital and OSF Healthcare,” said Irfan Ahmad, Ph.D., executive director of the Health Maker Lab, assistant dean for research, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and executive director for interdisciplinary initiatives for the Grainger College of Engineering.

Since the university has limited production capacity, the partners are sharing designs with manufacturers who might be interested in and capable of performing medium to large-scale production of them in order to help hospitals who need them. Design specifications and instructions for use are available through this link

Ahmad said the school has tested both large and small-scale sterilization of the products. The large-scale process has gone through U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review and is now under the review of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The team sought FDA guidance under Emergency Use Authorizations for PPE to help with PPE product development.

Team leaders from the Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Illinois College of Medicine’s Health Maker Lab dubbed the project “I-PPE”. The “I” stands for Illinois, innovation and “I” – local manufacturers and community members – can make it. Several university colleges, the Krannert Center, the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab, local volunteers are others are part of the effort.

Charitable donations have helped with the project. Contributions include Krannert Costume Shop, which under the leadership of Andrea Bouck quickly mobilized a community-based workforce involving over 400 local sewers to create reusable face masks and reusable non-surgical isolation gowns. The fold-and-cut PPE gown pattern was created by Quilter Glennys Mensing, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. 

Jump ARCHES funded N95 respirator masks. Motorola and Carle Illinois College of Medicine also made contributions. 

Others can donate here. More information about the project can be found through this link

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