Bordentown residents Kelsey and Dave Hess have found a unique way to help frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelsey Hess, who has been a patient of Monmouth Medical Center’s (MCC) Cystic Fibrosis Center since she was a young child, and Dave Hess have donated medical-grade face shields made with a 3D printer to the frontline staff at MMC, the first hospital they chose to receive the donations. Since the start of the pandemic, they have been making face shields with their 3D printer for health care providers and first responders all over the state and have also donated them to MMC sister hospital Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, according to a statement provided by the hospital.
Diagnosed at 5 months with cystic fibrosis, a genetic, progressive disease that causes persistent lung infections that limits her ability to breathe, Kelsey Hess made the donation to MMC through Robert Zanni, M.D., the hospital’s chief of pediatric pulmonology and medical director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center. She has been a patient of Monmouth’s center since she was 10, and when she was in her 20s, she transitioned to the adult program.
“I’ve been with the entire team at the CF Center for many years, and was so happy to make Monmouth Medical Center the first hospital that we donated to,” said Kelsey Hess, a stay-at-home mom with a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son who is currently navigating the waters of quarantine and home schooling. “Even though the hospital is more than an hour away, it is where I go with any health issues and is where I had both my children. MMC has a very special place in my heart.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit New Jersey, they wanted to make a difference, so they started making these shields with the 3D printer Kelsey Hess had purchased a couple of years ago as a gift for her husband. After some momentum generated by social media posts and a Facebook fundraising campaign, they have been able to buy two more printers and have increased their output, to date donating about 500 shields, according to the statement.
“Working with a single printer, we started making about 30 face shields a day, eventually boosting production to about 45 each day, and now with the additional printers, we are able to produce about 75 to 80 a day,” said Dave Hess, who adds that they have purchased rolls of filament online through retailers such as Amazon and Micro Center. “The great thing about 3D printers is that you can adapt the design to your specific printer and the materials you have.”
Designs for face shields are essentially a headband with the ability to attach a clear plastic sheet to the front. Jason Montero, director of Distribution at MMC, notes that the hospital’s respiratory therapy team loves the homemade shields, according to the statement.
Eric Carney, president and CEO of MMC, praised the ingenuity of community members like the Hesses finding unique ways to help health care workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s so inspiring in times of crisis to see our community come together to support each other,” he said in the statement. “At Monmouth I see it day in and day out in the tireless dedication of our staff to our patients and each other. And I have seen it from the start of this health crisis in the generosity of our community – donations like these are truly a testament to the power of people to come together in a crisis to help each other.”
The Comprehensive Cystic Fibrosis Center at Monmouth’s Unterberg Children’s Hospital is the oldest and largest of the centers in New Jersey, offering patient care, teaching and research. The center — which includes both pediatric and adult programs — is accredited by the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is designated by the State of New Jersey as a referral center for Cystic Fibrosis Newborn Screening and has been designated as a Therapeutic Development Center by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Therapeutic Development Network.
To share a note of thanks or to make donations to Monmouth Medical Center’s Emergency Response Fund, visit www.rwjbh.org/heroes.