Health workers from 33 recipient hospitals gave a thumbs-up to more than 100,0000 reusable face shields distributed to them by the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) and Universal Robina Corporation (URC). The donations were part of the organizations’ joint efforts to help respond to the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
URC, which is among the biggest food manufacturers in the country, made thousands of reusable face shields using repurposed parts of its production line. Since March, the company has resourcefully created improvised medical and safety items out of its own production materials. It previously donated physical distancing barriers made of its packaging transparent film materials to several hospitals during the first few weeks of the community quarantine.
The face shields are made of three basic materials for feasible mass production—polypropylene strip (14-mm thick and 1-meter long), an 8’ X 3’ PET sheet, and some staples. The PET sheets and staples are bought from suppliers, while the PP strips are produced in its Calamba, Laguna facility.
URC Senior Vice President for Quality, Engineering, Sustainability, and Technical Services David Lim designed the URC face shield. “We decided to come up with a face shield design that can both be easily manufactured and is reusable,” he said.
“Given the variety of face shields that we got from our warehouse, these were the most user-friendly,” The Medical City Laboratory Manager Ma. Lourdes Gatbonton said.
GBF Executive Director Grace Colet said the innovative solution of the URC engineers allowed GBF to respond fast to the hospitals’ needs for quality face shields. “Since these were manufactured locally and efficiently at URC’s repurposed plant line, we were able to secure face shields at a more affordable cost which allowed GBF to distribute to more hospitals in need,” she said.
The face shields were donated to the following recipient healthcare facilities and hospitals: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Rizal Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, The Medical City, and Chinese General Hospital. These were picked based on the volume of their Covid-19 admitted patients and their public call for donations.
Doctors and health workers from those hospitals enumerate the outstanding qualities of the design and features of the special face shields created and donated by GBF and URC:
Ease of breathing
“Given the variety of face shields that we got from our warehouse, these were the most user-friendly,” said The Medical City Laboratory Manager Ma. Lourdes Gatbonton. “They provide the right amount of distance between the user’s face and the shield.” Gatbonton emphasized that anyone using the face shield can find it easier to breathe, unlike when using other face shields.
“They also do not moisten or have that clouding effect so it allows us to see better and work around the laboratory without trouble,” Gatbonton added. This observation was supported by Dr. Joseph Angelo Kiat of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center Surgery Department. Dr. Kiat cited the clearer acetates used for this notable feature.
Lightweight, yet sturdy
Dr. Kiat also noted that the face shields are lightweight and sturdy, which facilitates comfort to users. “These face shields are already distributed to our hospital employees including our janitors, orderly, and food assigned to our Covid wing and wards.
Easy to clean and reuse
Dr. Maria Julieta Germar from the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the Philippine General Hospital noted that the face shields can easily be dipped in a sterilizing solution and reused. This is because the items do not contain foams that instantly absorb microbes. Thus, the donated face shields are faster to disinfect compared to other types.