VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — As the fight against COVID-19 escalates, local hospitals are preparing for a surge in cases. Doctors and nurses need personal protective equipment, like face masks, to keep themselves and their patients safe. Local medical students are creating their own supply chain to help their colleagues.
Sometimes a good idea jumps out at you.
“This is a way we can help our colleagues and other professionals,” Tej Mehta said.
Mehta and Caleb Heiberger are fourth year med students at USD and part of the Seldinger Society. They may not be in class right now, but the group is using 3D printers to make masks for medical professionals. The Seldinger Society is teaming up with the University of South Dakota and local businesses to address the need.
“I’m excited to help,” Caleb Heiberger said.
It takes a little more than an hour to make one of these for someone who is devoting a lot of time to save others.
“We can put multiple masks to print all at once, so it’s the kind of thing where you can set the printer up, you can leave it overnight, and it’ll just constantly make masks all night long,” Mehta said.
When they deliver them to local hospitals and reservations, Heiberger says safety is a must.
“You don’t want to walk in there and carry that to the next place and be that person who’s, while you’re trying to help, you’re actually dragging the coronavirus or something else from one place to the next,” Heiberger said.
Brady Mallory: “Do you feel proud of the work you’re doing right now to be part of a solution?”
Heiberger: “It does feel good, but again, I don’t want to take credit for anything. It’s all these people on the front line that are taking the risk and doing what needs to be done.”
Seldinger is using masks published on the National Institute of Health print exchange, and undergoing testing for full NIH approval. The group is making 300 masks for the Sanford Vermillion and Yankton Clinics/Hospitals, which is its largest single order yet. To donate and help them make more masks for medical professionals, you can visit this website.
These med students will be doctors some day, but what they’re doing right now shows their strength of character is far from one dimensional.
“This is the reason we want to be doctors, because ultimately there are people out there that need help. This is a way we can help them,” Mehta said.