Coronavirus pandemic: UF Health Jacksonville makes its own personal protective equipment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Right now, health care workers are on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus.

However, they’re lacking proper “personal protective equipment” or PPE.

Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole spoke to Dr. Andy Godwin, the chair of the Emergency Health Department at UF Health Jacksonville, where they have started making some of their own.

The coronavirus outbreak has made it pretty difficult for governors to secure personal protective equipment, or PPE, like masks, gloves, gowns and face shields, for their health care workers.

At UF Health, they’re making some of their own face shields.

"Part of the risk is getting into the eyes. We all wear goggles. We’re all trying to wear the appropriate masks and wearing the protective gear. This just adds another layer for our protection,” Godwin said.

Godwin said their simulation staff made the shields from vinyl and foam.

"We provided them with the design and they took it from there … and have come up with a workable solution,” Godwin said.

With the supply they have now, they're able to make at least 150 by the end of the day.

Staff safety is the number one priority at UF Health.

If they lose a staff member because they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, Godwin said they don’t have the numbers to fill in those gaps.

Another tool they created to keep workers safer is an intubation box. It’s made out of PVC and vinyl.

"Anytime you stick a tube into someone’s airway, that is requiring ventilator support, those kind of things, that’s when it’s most likely for providers to become infected and contaminated with the COVID virus,” Godwin said.

The intubation box is used to cover the patient, to help limit the exposure to other health care workers during intubation.

Cole asked Godwin how much PPE they have now, and when they can expect more.

He couldn’t give exact numbers, but said they are constantly getting updates from their supply department.

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