University and donors drive PPE initiative to assist health care workers and frontline responders

Members of the multi-divisional team that produced protective face shields for front-line workers

To help alleviate the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and other frontline personnel during the coronavirus pandemic, Florida International University (FIU) has produced more than 6,000 reusable face shields on 3D printers.

The College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts; the College of Engineering & Computing; the College of Arts, Sciences & Education; the Office of Research & Economic Development; the Honors College; the Miami Beach Urban Studios; FIU Embrace; and the Department of Emergency Management produced thousands of face shields for workers at Baptist Health. Baptist Health has 11 hospitals and more than 150 urgent care centers and physician offices in the four-county area from Monroe to Palm Beach counties. The Knight Foundation and the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation pledged gifts to CARTA in support of the initiative.

“As a university we wanted to find a way to leverage the skills, talent and resources of our students, faculty and staff to help these hard-working heroes who are risking their lives to save ours,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “I’m proud of our collaboration with Baptist Health and hope it will pave the way for more opportunities to make a difference during these difficult times.”

Inspired by this partnership to assist Baptist Health, President’s Council member Dr. Angela Martinez and FIU alumnus Raul Chavez ’80 made a gift to CARTA to fund the printing of 1,000 protective face shields for local fire-rescue departments.

The nationwide shortage of PPE is an issue close to the couple’s hearts. Chavez, an alumnus of the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, worked for fire-rescue for 35 years and remains in close contact with his former colleagues; and Martinez is a community psychologist and licensed clinical social worker who has been providing free crisis management counseling to Baptist Health professionals on the front lines of the pandemic.

“We were very concerned about the shortage of supplies. When we saw that FIU was working on this project, it occurred to us that we could do something to benefit the firefighters and first responders here in our community who are on the front lines, as well,” Martinez said.