Innovation partnership for COVID-19 response

Overview

The University of Maine has formed an innovation team to help evaluate and develop solutions to the shortages of supplies and challenges faced by Maine’s health care centers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group includes UMaine faculty, staff and students, representatives from the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MMEP), the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, MaineHealth, St. Joseph Hospital and Northern Light Health. Other collaborating partners include the Manufacturers Association of Maine and Maine Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

The team based at the state’s public research university is operating as part of a March 22 umbrella agreement with the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) allowing the University of Maine System to provide goods and services to Maine health care facilities and agencies as coordinated by MEMA.

This group has been cataloging needs from area hospitals and medical centers, and collecting information worldwide to vet innovations that have been tried and used. We are fielding inquiries and suggestions from near and far, including from members of the public interested in assisting with response efforts. (Members of the public can send us an email).

An essential part of our work is making sure any potential solution is adequately tested and suitable for use in a medical environment. Alternative materials, technologies and techniques must be evaluated for safety and effectiveness and approved for use in a hospital setting. This applies to any personal protective equipment being worn by health care workers and distributed for use in hospitals. The UMaine team has the ability to review approaches with doctors, clinicians, infection control and pharmacists as well as the Maine CDC, to gain confidence that alternative materials and techniques will work and can be used.

We are helping to coordinate a number of initiatives outlined in more detail on the menu at left, including a variety of projects related to face masks and shields.