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3D printing being used in COVID-19 care at Rapides Regional

Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 3:43 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It’s been five months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rapides Regional has found a way to replace part of a suit that’s crucial for doctors and nurses to wear when treating COVID-19 patients.

Nurses use PAPR suits every time they enter into a COVID patient room. The suits are designed to be used once every few years but, because of the pandemic, they’ve been used every day since March. Because the suits have been used so frequently, about ten percent no longer function properly.

A new suit costs anywhere from $1,800 to $3,000 to replace and the replacement part has been on backorder for months.

Hospital staff discussed the idea of using 3D printers to make their own equipment. Within two weeks, Mid America ITG Consulting Technical Analyst Mike Martin had a working prototype.

Now, there are over a dozen replacement parts printed up and ready to go.

“It’s really about being able to use that piece of equipment that we desperately need. This is the premier way to take care of one of these COVID patients. It is completely self-contained, it breaths through filter systems but this is what, you’ve seen it on tv, the hoods, this is what hooks the hood to that breathing apparatus back here and they are expensive. They’re about $3,000 dollars apiece but the problem was, during COVID, they were unavailable and they’re still unavailable.”

RN, Director of Safety and Security Chuck Butterfield

The cost is only $50 for the filament and one individual piece is less than a dollar.

As of Friday, three PAPR suits are back in service and three additional suits will have the new part soon.

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