Otterbein University staff and students are answering the call to assist workers on the front lines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by making and donating personal protective equipment to providing child care for first responders.

The Point at Otterbein University, 60 Collegeview Road, has established a light-manufacturing operation in the university's Maker Space to produce PPE that is being donated to EMS, fire, police and health-care workers.

"Otterbein has strong partnerships in central Ohio, so when The Point received requests to contribute, we pulled together a dedicated team of students and staff to produce PPE," said Erin Bender, The Point executive director "Otterbein's leaders are committed to serving our community and ensuring the safety of our first responders and health-care workers, whose work is so critical especially during this global health crisis."

She said the current emphasis is on laser-cut and 3D-printed face shields, as well as 3D-printed adapters to enable OhioHealth facilities to use ventilator screens from a distance, which will protect healthcare workers from exposure to infected patients.

"We can produce 150 face shields per day, and we are making 200 ventilator adapters for OhioHealth," Bender said.

Curtis Smith, Maker Space and laboratory-operations manager at The Point, is working with about five students who had volunteered to produce PPE using the facility's 3D printers and laser cutters.

"I've been looking at what people have been doing nationally and around the world," he said. "We wanted to do our part."

Smith said Otterbein anticipates being able to make 200 to 400 shields with materials on hand, and more materials might be provided to make more in the future.

"I have about five students who are working in shifts, a couple engineering student, grad assistants and an education major. Most students working for me are from the region."

Mary Woo, an Otterbein junior education major with a focus on math and science, responded to the request to make masks.

"I am helping with getting the 3D printers ready and calibrated in order for them to make the masks," she said. "I have also helped with cutting the acrylic and printing them on the laser printer."

She said the design of the laser printed acrylic masks was made by Brandon Queary, an Ohio State University intern at Maker Space.

"After we print the 3D model and the laser printed acrylic shield, we attach acetate projector paper to it (rounded on the corners), add a rubber band to keep it on the person's head and a foam strip that makes the face shields more comfortable for the person," Woo said.

The Columbus resident said she feels like she's making a difference by volunteering at The Point.

"When I saw that there is a global crisis, I felt useless at first," she said.

"However, now I feel that I am making a small impact on the crisis and am thankful that I can help the medical staff."

Otterbein sophomore Lana Troyer, a communications student from Grove City, said she received a message from a professor about volunteering to help first responders with child care.

"I replied back with an excited 'yes'. I was so excited to hear of this volunteering position because it allows me to give back to those who give so much to others," she said.

As of March 31, Troyer hadn't been taken up on the offer but, she said, she's eagerly waiting to help.

In addition to the operation at The Point and student volunteers, the Department of Nursing and the Athletic Training Program gathered surplus supplies from their respective clinical laboratories to donate to the OhioHealth Distribution Warehouse.

"At Otterbein University, we are committed to fostering a culture of social responsibility, civic engagement and meaningful service to our community," said Jason Purvis, director of the Nursing Arts Lab.

"As our community is going through these times of unchartered waters and our healthcare workers are in dire need of PPE supplies, we knew it was the right thing to do to give back to our community."

Purvis worked with Danielle Kilboy, assistant athletic trainer, because of their shared desire to help their fellow healthcare workers and the central Ohio community.

"We have a close working relationship with OhioHealth Sports Medicine and OhioHealth Physicians Group, so we were thrilled to provide our surplus personal protective equipment to those healthcare providers who support us every day and are doing important work," Kilboy said.

Otterbein donated 4,173 pieces of PPE, including isolation gowns, face masks with shields, ties and ear loops, N95 masks and gloves.