When Sophia Fang, MD, MS, learned a long-time partner of the John A. Moran Eye Center's Global Outreach Division in Haiti had to shut its doors because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) to battle a COVID-19 outbreak, she took action.
Fang, who is Moran's global outreach fellow, has a background in biomedical engineering. She also has a history of creating behind-the-scene tools and systems needed to make sustainable, effective eye care in outreach settings a reality.
The idea of designing and creating PPE for Dr. Pierre Luc Dupuy and his teams at Vision Plus Clinique (VPC) and Baptist Convention Eye Clinic in Cap-Haitien, Haiti seemed completely doable to Fang—with a little help from some friends.
"Unfortunately, several of our partners around the world told us they did not have enough PPE to continue seeing patients safely," she said. "Many of these clinics and hospitals provide the only eye care available in underserved regions of the world, so the need is critical."
A Team Effort
With support from Global Outreach Division leadership, Fang connected with Robert Cionni, MD, a Moran adjunct volunteer ophthalmologist who is active with the outreach program. He also shares a love for tinkering.
Fang and Cionni coordinated the 3D printing of shields and face masks with fellow volunteers John Meyers, a teacher at Channing Hall Charter School, and Nick Arbanas of tech company Droid Forge.
Each mask took at least four hours to print, and then one of the biggest challenges was testing various options for filters and for lining the masks to help create a seal and a comfortable fit on the face. All materials were donated.
"We sent a box of 40 face shields and 40 assembled face masks to VPC," said Fang. "Now we're working on assembling PPE packages for our outreach partners in Tanzania, Ghana, and Nepal. While we can't be there in person, each piece of equipment we're able to produce will not only help to protect the individual but helps them return to their important work of taking care of their patients and their communities."