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When students and teachers at Troy Christian High School learned about projects other youth were starting to help the medical community during COVID-19, they found that they could help by making face mask support straps.
“Troy Christian has always been a place where if you needed something, they were there to hear you out and help you in any possible way,” said Jenna Douglas, a student at Troy Christian High School.
Jenna and her mother, Heather Douglas, RN BSN CHPN, a team leader at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, learned about a Boy Scout’s project in Vancouver to make mask straps and brought the idea to Jenna’s teacher, Jared Mitchell, who teaches computer aided design.
“Mr. Mitchell has been a teacher of mine for the past five years. We knew they had the equipment, but it doesn’t just take the equipment,” Jenna said. “Mr. Mitchell has a servant’s heart, and when he hears about a project his students are interested in, he doesn’t hesitate to start it.”
Knowing her mother’s experiences as a hospice nurse, Jenna knew that the hospice care teams would benefit from having these comfort straps that hold the elastic strings from the face mask and give a more comfortable fit while decreasing breakdown on the ears of nurses, physicians and personal care specialists.
From Jenna and Heather thinking about bringing the idea locally to school staff hearing about the project, the Troy Christian School community has been involved in making this project happen.
“These straps help our clinical staff who provide care to in various settings to alleviate the pain and discomfort on their ears from the surgical masks elastic straps,” said Ashley Puchalski, RN BSN, CHPN, CCM, director of clinical care at Ohio’s Hospice.
Jenna praised the hospice nurses for their commitment to working diligently to ensure the safety of patients, families and staff during COVID-19.
“Experiencing pain while trying to concentrate solely on patients would make anyone’s job harder,” Jenna said. “With this piece, the nurses have one less thing to think about during rough or long shifts.”
Troy Christian Schools is looking forward to getting more students involved in the project after the stay-at-home order is lifted and students can return to school. “Unfortunately, because of the quarantine situation, we have not been able to have students involved in the project,” said Scott Smith, director of student leadership at Troy Christian Schools. “We have students who would love to be able to and definitely are capable of contributing to this project. Our goal is to get them involved when we are allowed to have students back in school.”
The school has five 3D printers that are each printing five mask straps a piece and the print time takes 1.5 hours for each cycle.
Mitchell found a way to produce the straps faster by sourcing a material that they could cut on the computer numerical control (CNC) machine at the school.
“He was able to modify the design and create a tool path for the CNC machine to cut the straps out of a type of sheet plastic, which happens to be more flexible and durable than the printed ABS plastic we started working with,” Smith said.
Mitchell sourced material from Haas Signs in Troy, which supplied the school with the plastic sheets at cost and donated a sheet. With the CNC process, the school can cut six masks every 1.5 minutes, a much faster process than using a 3D printer.
“We know the need for these will not be going away any time soon,” Smith said. “We want to continue using what we have to be a blessing for those around us. We are grateful for our healthcare workers in our community, and we are glad that we can be a small blessing to them as they do the difficult work they have in front of them.”