Rockville Centre School District staff members have banded together to donate vital personal protective equipment to hospital workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers, administrators and school nurses are all part of an effort to create face shields with the district’s 3D printers and send them to local hospitals in their time of need. So far, they have donated 200, and another 200 are in production. Their goal is to donate 600 total.
Dr. Noreen Leahy, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel services and special education, got the ball rolling for the project in early April. Through Facebook posts and news pieces, she saw others creating face shields with 3D printers. She thought the district should help out by putting their own printers to use.
“At times like this, everyone has to come together and reinvent themselves,” Leahy said. “Car manufacturers are now producing ventilators. People who retired went back to work at hospitals.
“We were really digging in and saying, ‘what can we do, what can we offer?’” she continued. “There were idle 3D printers [in the schools], and we had the means to create PPE for this pandemic, so we put the pieces together.”
After bringing the idea to her fellow administrators, she asked the district’s technology education teachers, Dan LaManna and Lynn Voltaggio, if they could set up the printing equipment in their homes and make the shields. “Our teachers have a lot of talents to share,” Leahy said, "and it was incredible how quickly the tech teachers said, ‘yes, this is something we want to do.’”
In addition, the Rockville Centre Education Foundation donated $1,000 for the project supplies. “They made the project possible,” Leahy noted.
What ensued was somewhat of a socially-distant assembly line. School custodians Jackie Deluca and Ralph Magliaro loaded the seven printers from South Side middle and high schools onto trucks. Then, Leahy and Mike Anderson, director of technology, delivered them to the teachers’ homes, and they’ve been printing the shield bases ever since. “We brought the printers to them, and they run them 24 hours a day now,” Leahy said with gratitude.
Once the frames are complete, Leahy picks them up and delivers them to school nurses, who assemble the frames with the plastic shield and elastic. Nurses involved with the project are Sarah Brakstad, Tara ALgerio-Vento, Ann DeGregoris, Jeanette Piedrahita-Cuartas, Laura Lanning, Mary Walsh, Kristine Keating and Mary Kate McMahon.
The face shields have gone to Northwell Health-LIJ in Valley Stream, Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside and three New York City hospitals.
“I’m grateful to be a part of a district so willing to give of themselves,” Leahy said, “to give up their time and talent to make this happen.”