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We provide face shields for Bay Area healthcare workers, focusing on institutions ignored by large- scale sourcing and donation efforts. Face shields are a critical component of personal protective equipment (PPE), providing essential barrier protection from SARS-CoV-2 containing aerosols and droplets for healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 patients.
Recognizing the need of these institutions, we launched Shield the Bay in March 2020, crowdfunded $16,000 to provide 20,000 face shields. Our initial partner is Highland Hospital, a county hospital in Oakland and the primary trauma center in Alameda County, with one of the busiest emergency departments in the United States. Our product is the primary face shield in use by nurses and certified nursing assistants in a number of Highland COVID units.
Highland Hospital in Oakland is the largest hospital in the Alameda Health System, where 65% of patients are African American and Latino, more than 50% are uninsured, and one-third are on Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program). This hospital in particular has been hard-hit during the pandemic, and is under-resourced in part due to the enormous wealth disparity in Alameda County.
Our face shield consists of a reusable visor, and cost-effective, easily replaceable transparent shields. Our human-centered design process has simultaneously engaged hospital administration and nurses. Four rounds of prototyping and testing in clinical environments resulted in a differentiated product in a crowded marketplace. Our face shield integrates with clinical workflows, gives nurses more confidence in safety compared to other donated and purchased products, is comfortable for long periods of use, eliminates the need for disinfection, is more cost effective per use than even the most basic alternatives, and results in less environmental waste.
Today, Alameda County has the highest number of COVID cases and deaths in northern California. COVID has exacerbated the scarcity of supply for hospitals that serve less affluent communities and communities of color: a majority of nursing staff and patients are African American, Latino, Filipino, and mixed race.