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Making A Difference During COVID

At Hands4Hope our passion is to motivate our youth to become a community of civic minded and socially responsible citizens. Often it’s our adult volunteers who shine as the most inspiring examples of what that looks like when our community is in crisis. Former Hands4Hope Board of Directors Chair Doug Busch didn’t have to think twice when he heard about the critical shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first responders and health care workers and knew that he had the right mix of resources and experience to make face shields in his home workshop. So far he has produced and distributed 325 face shields and helped another group by producing parts for an additional 200.

“When the pandemic ramped up and care providers were desperate for PPE, I started thinking about how I could help,” said Busch, adding that he was inspired when his wife Julie started sewing personal masks for donation. “I realized that I had the equipment and some capabilities that could produce face shields and decided to develop a design and prototype it.”

He was able to pull from his many years of work experience in medical device design and manufacturing in order to understand the requirements needed for the ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ issued in light of the pandemic by the FDA. This allows for unregulated face shields to be used by clinicians if the right requirements are met.

The project wasn’t without challenge as Busch said the material for producing the transparent part of the face shields was in very short supply. “I actually had to revise the design and the manufacturing process twice,” he said. Quick to share the credit, he added, “I was able to build on work others had done and designed a face shield that could be made with the equipment I have and the materials I could source.”

It is with that collaborative spirit that Busch is doing this project in conjunction with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference. “I was able to support and extend awareness of the Hands4Hope organization and mission locally and spread awareness further in the state.” Currently he has purchased material to make another batch of 200 face shields and will mentor several Hands4Hope youth through the manufacturing process. In addition, Hands4Hope youth will help distribute those face shields to local companies or organizations between Folsom and Placerville.

Recipients of the already completed face shields include Westview Healthcare Center in Auburn, College Oak Nursing and Rehab Center in North Highlands, Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles and Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Busch said it was particularly rewarding when he donated a batch to a medical transport company in East Los Angeles where the pandemic has caused a disruption in appointments for regularly scheduled vaccinations. Busch was told the PPE was desperately needed for a drive thru vaccination clinic for underserved infants and children.

“If someone wants to make a difference like that”, Busch emphasized, “a workshop and technical expertise are not required.” “They can simply look at what they have to give,” he added,” such as people skills, cooking or mentoring, and use it to help others.” Busch leads by example here as well, as he stepped in as a math tutor for Hands4Hope youth using Zoom calls during the recent distance learning. It’s the Hands4Hope mission he believes in that teaches students, “When you see something that needs to be done and you can meet that need,” he said, “you just do it.”

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