PHOENIX — A local art collective has switched gears to produce protective equipment for medical staff.
"We never thought I'd be doing this," laughed Kirk Strawn, founder of Walter Productions, an art and community collective in the Valley well known for it's larger than life light and fire shows, art installments and vehicles at Burning Man.
Strawn, an MD who formerly worked in emergency and urgent health care, took his own resources to help provide personal protective equipment for medical staff at Banner Hospitals.
"Not only does the consumption of PPE go up drastically in this pandemic, but also that the supplies of all the materials were never built in order to really meet this need," said Strawn.
Walter Productions is using 3D printing to make the base for a protective face shield, and using other machinery to cut the shield itself. Strawn projects that Walter Productions is able to produce 1,000 protective face shields per week.
The shields add another layer of protection for the healthcare worker's eyes, nose and mouth. It can also be disassembled and sanitized to be used again at a later time.
"That protection of eyes and then an extra layer of protection over their nose and mouth so all of that protection right now is what's going to keep them as healthy as possible," said Christy Anderson, Executive Director for the Banner Innovation Group at Banner Health. "These are preventative measures should we get a low or no supplies situation in the future."
Walter Productions has spent of this week preparing for full production, but is still expecting to produce between 500-700 face shields this week.
"A community can support our front line, and that's what we should be doing," said Strawn.