ROCHESTER, Minn. - Equipment to protect healthcare workers is in high demand during the pandemic, but in low supply. Mayo Clinic is looking into ways to make some equipment parts in Rochester.
Mayo Clinic's 3D Anatomic Modeling Laboratory is evaluating ways to 3D print parts for masks, respirators, and ventilators to help healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients. This possibility could help fill the gap in supply and demand for personal protective equipment.
"Up until about 2 months ago, it's just not something we think of. We think as physicians that everything we need to grab off the shelf is always going to be there, but it turns out in this pandemic that's not true," says the lab's Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Morris.
However, the process is not as simple as printing gear and distributing it to hospital staff. Dr. Morris explains there will be a long, rigorous process to test any potential products to make sure they are safe and effective. The last thing the lab wants is to make a mask that doesn't protect a worker, or create a part for a ventilator that fails on a patient.
Mayo Clinic's supply of nasal swabs for Coronavirus is currently right on track. However, Dr. Morris tells KIMT the 3D Anatomic Modeling Laboratory is already looking into ways to 3D print nasal swabs in case supply ever falls below demand. Mayo Clinic wants to stay on top of that demand to prevent what has happened with face masks to happen to other equipment.