How you can help
First, thank you – during these uncertain and difficult days, it is heartening to see so many people wanting to help others.
The best way to get started is to seek information on the immediate needs of your local hospital. Hospitals are understandably focused on patient care and often cannot accept unsolicited donations of supplies or other items. All facilities have different needs and protocols, and many hospitals have web pages dedicated to sharing this information. (A partial list of pages for Maine hospitals is below.)
Masks and other face shields are a particularly tricky form of PPE to produce given FDA standards around what types of materials are suitable for use in a medical environment. Adequate protection for the wearer is paramount, and FDA-approved forms of PPE go through rigorous testing to ensure compliance.
If you are interested in sewing masks, check out the 100 Million Mask Challenge.
For 3D printers, The National Institutes of Health hosts a 3D print exchange where designs can be submitted for testing and clinical review. Designs already submitted and reviewed are searchable and generally offered with instructions. If you have a design idea, this is the best place to submit it.
While 3D printing allows for quick and easy development of prototypes that can be valuable to innovation efforts, not all 3D printing materials are suitable for medical applications, and not all 3D printers can print medical-grade materials. Items printed on home 3D printers generally will not meet required standards and cannot be produced in the volumes required.
To learn how you can help Maine hospitals, please refer to the list below:
This list is not all-inclusive. If your hospital is not listed, check their website for more information. Many hospitals have foundations or dedicated staff who handle donations and they are likely the best people to contact. The social media accounts for your local hospital can be another useful reference. You can also easily make donations to support hospitals’ PPE purchases through Protect the Heroes.
Please also visit the Maine Helps site set up by the office of Governor Janet Mills.