The Covid-19 virus has put most of us on high alert and precautions are being made to keep us healthy and safe. The immediate crisis has also inspired many of us to try and help out our fellow man with time and talents.

The news is filled with countless stories of the shortage of personal protective equipment. Right now a handful of locals took it upon themselves to help fill this void out with their equipment and talents.

Fr. Joesph Sund, the associate pastor at St. Patrick's is one of the people putting his talents to work. Sund has access to a 3-D printer at St. Mary's High School and was asked if he could help the hospital by making protective masks. "The templates for the masks are available on-line and with the 3-D printer the print time was about 8 hours per mask. I have made 15 N-95 masks for the hospital. This technology is impressive. It is too bad that we couldn't have done this as part of a class project involving the students but obviously making these masks is to keep people safe and students being at school just wouldn't be safe." said Fr. Sund.

Ann Koelzer of AMK Dental Lab in O'Neill, also has a 3-D printer for her use in making dental molds. Koelzer's said her printer is different than the one that Fr.Sund is using because her's manufactures medical-grade equipment for the dental implants and dental models that she produces. " I have done about nine masks with each one of them taking about four hours. I am happy to help the community out by helping keep health care providers safe," said Koelzer.

Dean Benson physician assistant at Avera got the ball rolling as far as seeking out help in getting the face masks made from Sund and Koelzer also sought the help of Tim Schneider when it came to working on individuals in the operating room or emergency room. Benson had seen a box on the internet made to isolate the provider from the patient when dealing with the patient's airway by isolating the patient's torso with a box. The box would need to have holes cut in the sides to grant the provider access to the patient and enough room in the box to work with the tools to secure and work on the airway if need be.

Schneider of O'Neill Lumber took on the task using the measurements given by Benson and using plexiglass built a box and cut the wholes in the box to fit over the patient and allow the provider access to work.

There are so many things that have taken place with the help of the community in this crisis. At one point the hospital had considered setting up an alternate location for patients if the hospital were to reach an overflow capacity. Wayne Gaughenbaugh helped in giving them a quick fix for privacy in using the bathroom. Wayne used remnants of some of his flooring products at Gaughenbaugh flooring and some handy construction work to make a small but private area for patients to use with a commode.

The community which has always been close having shown its determination in helping healthcare workers in overcoming some of the obstacles that the pandemic has thrown at us.


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