Rapid Response to PPE Shortage and a Hold on PPE Manufacture

Dear Colleagues,

First, let me express my gratitude and pride at the tremendous response of individuals who have stepped forward to aid our colleagues in the Medical School and Health System in response to their urgent needs. We are grateful for every suggested solution and offer of help, and the rapid reaction group that formed has developed actionable results in just a few days.  

This has included activities such as identifying, evaluating, and testing readily available methods for safely recycling N95 masks, helping to understand potential risks associated with employing nasal cannula in patients ill with COVID-19, and aiding in efforts to specify and obtain a variety of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).  It also includes engineers who have made breath shields for eye exams to protect patients and doctors, and others who have pulled together operations models from the retail sector that could aid in pandemic logistics. You can see several examples as they develop here.

I know many of you want to directly help in the fabrication of PPE, and are standing by to employ some of the manufacturing devices we have on campus. However, after consultation with the health system, we believe that CoE should not use our resources at this time to manufacture PPE.  The health system is actively working with a variety of manufacturers who are striving to provide PPE in the large quantities needed to meet their emerging needs.   Therefore, we ask that our CoE community “hold our powder” in case the health system needs us to manufacture specialized replacement parts or other limited quantity items that may not be available through the regular supply chain. If and when the time comes that we must manufacure PPE, here are the Michigan specifications that need to be followed:  https://specs.engin.umich.edu/.  

Please keep in mind that our front line health care providers are currently quite busy helping patients. To evaluate the most efficient means of consultation and feedback without creating a burden, a COVID-19 Rapid Reaction Steering Committee has been established.  This committee will identify the most urgent needs of the healthcare system and direct them to members of the U-M community who can help solve them. We are in constant communication with the Medical School and Health System, and we will reach out to you as their prioritized needs are defined. 

Thanks again to all of you for your dedication and commitment. I have been awed by the amount of individuals who have stepped forward to help our medical community. Please continue to live our values, and above all, please stay safe.


Steve C.