Chief of Infectious Disease Launches Local Face Shield Production

Dr. Bettina Fries, Chief, Infectious Disease division, and Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the Department of Medicine, has had to play many leadership roles during the current crisis, with her expertise needed at every turn to fight the global pandemic.

On March 16th, an additional role she played was unexpected: that of launching a local mass production of the coveted face shields that healthcare workers need as part of their crucial PPE (personal protective equipment).

Dr. Fries, who sits on the Hospital Command Incidence Leadership panel and treats Covid-19 patients, was troubled that face shields were in low supply. She contacted a neighbor, Aggie Libohova, an industrial design engineer and a specialist on the mass production of plastic parts. The neighbor produced the first prototype in under 24 hours. 

She then connected with Stony Brook University College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Stony Brook Medicine key players to discuss the product and turnaround time to produce the face shields. Dr. Fries recognized the imperative supply need due to the rapid changes evolving in the role of PPE for healthcare workers. Other hospitals also reached out and voiced interest, as healthcare workers across the state are in constant need for more protection.

The design engineer neighbor then developed the product further for mass production, and a local donor got involved to help buy material. A new prototype was designed, and the SBU engineers also reached out to the SUNY community who were also seeking ways to get 3D masks printed.

Dr. Fries then teamed with an infection control specialist to evaluate the new prototype. Subsequently, a mass production of masks was launched for both Stony Brook University Hospital and the SUNY community.

Dr. Bettina Fries and the Infectious Disease team have been particularly laser-focused during this unprecedented and challenging time. Becoming the springboard for the mass production of face shields is just another example of the ingenuity, swift-moving response, and concern for colleagues that Dr. Fries and the division exemplify.