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QCC Community Comes Together to Donate Supplies to Area Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

March, 2020
  • QCC Professor Lee Duerden demonstrates a 3D protoype mask he made. Two UMass Memorial nurses were thrilled to try the masks out.
    QCC Professor Lee Duerden demonstrates the 3D protype mask he made. Two UMass Memorial nurses were thrilled to try the masks out.

As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis deepens, Quinsigamond Community College faculty, staff, students and alumni have come together to assist area hospitals and healthcare facilities. The College’s science department recently donated 45 cases of nitrile gloves to Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

“This totals 45,000 gloves, which will go to hospitals and healthcare facilities in the most need,” said QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja.

Other initiatives by the QCC community include a project spearheaded by Lee Duerden, associate professor of Manufacturing Technology. Mr. Duerden is utilizing QCC’s Fab Lab and its form lab resin printers to make respirator masks that have removable HEPA filters, capable of filtration rates to 0.01 microns. In comparison, according to the Centers for Disease Controls, N95 filtering face piece respirators filter out at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles. N95 FFRs are capable of filtering out all types of particles, including bacteria and viruses. Mr. Duerden has currently printed prototypes that are being tested and utilized by 10 area nurses. 

QCC students are also taking part in the crusade to help out. QCC student Ilina Ivanova is a Liberal Arts Biology major, due to graduate this May. Ms. Ivanova has begun sewing masks after finding a Facebook group, “Worcester Stitchers for Health,” where people share patterns online. These masks also enable a filter to be inserted.

“I have made about 25 masks so far and I plan on making as many as I can. They take about 20-25 minutes to sew each, depending on the template,” she said, adding that the masks can either be dropped off at a drop box at the home of the coordinator of Worcester Stitchers for Health, or the coordinator will make arrangements to safely pick them up. 

They are taken to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) where they are either autoclaved or UV irradiated, depending on the mask material (anything that contains plastic will melt in an autoclave), packaged in sterile pouches and distributed by MEMA.

“However, many people know people personally who are working in high risk healthcare settings that are asking for these masks. For example, I know that a client at an ER veterinary hospital just made masks for the entire staff to alleviate pressure on their dwindling surgical mask supply," she said, adding that grocery store workers, delivery drivers, and other essential workers may also not have access to a mask.

Classes and labs at QCC’s Center for Healthcare and Workforce Development, located at 25 Federal Street, Worcester have also made donations to:

  • UMASS Medical School - N95 masks, gloves, gowns, surgical masks
  • Harrington Hospital – Gowns, and surgical masks
  • Salmon Healthcare – Gowns, gloves and surgical masks
  • Knollwood Nursing Home – Gowns, gloves and surgical masks

“In these unprecedented times, we must all do our part and try and help mitigate the medical supply demand our hospitals and healthcare facilities are facing,” said QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja. “We will continue to do everything we can to assist our healthcare workers who work tirelessly on the front lines.”