COVID-19 has had a profound effect on every industry—especially the medical industry. Dwindling PPE supplies, delayed shipments, the need for extra medical equipment and devices, and more have required hospitals and suppliers to change their focus to meet demand.
The PPE Supply Chain Impact
During the pandemic, the medical industry has experienced an unprecedented disruption to the supply chain. A lot of protective equipment and medical devices are made in China. When the virus forced the Chinese factories to shut down, the United States found itself without domestic manufacturers to fill the void—a void that has been felt deeply by health care workers
The lack of disposable isolation gowns, respirators, gloves, and more has left health care heroes scrambling to protect themselves as they treat their patients. In response, the FDA has been working with FEMA to improve access to PPE and other equipment. This has included giving special permission for certain types of respirators to be used in the medical setting, relaxing regulations to allow better access to more equipment, and instructing manufacturers to repurpose their production lines to make ventilators, masks, disposable hospital isolation gowns, and more.
Local Manufacturing to the Rescue
Some of that responsibility has fallen to local manufacturers, who have risen to the challenge of providing essential PPE for local health care facilities. It may seem overwhelming to repurpose a specially designed, smoothly operating facility, but the FDA offers advice for manufacturers who are ready to contribute, and many have been successful in manufacturing PPE.
One company in Maine started producing PPE a mere eight days after contacting a local health care facility about what their workers needed. Their first shift was the COVID pivot to protect their employees; the next was a production pivot. After some trial and error, they’re now producing thousands of face shields every day. Meanwhile, 600 companies, including well-known giants like New Balance and Gillette, are working with the state of Massachusetts to produce hand sanitizer, medical masks, and face shields.
Carolina CoverTech’s Pivot to Disposable Isolation Gowns
Carolina CoverTech is proud to be one of the companies across the country that have stepped up to serve their local communities with PPE manufacturing. We never thought we’d become a disposable isolation gown supplier, but here we are! We’ve been in the business of covering, protecting, containing, and enclosing since 1858, so the opportunity to cover and protect our health care workers is a natural fit for us—we just didn’t realize it until now.
At the beginning of April, we’d never made a disposable isolation gown. By the end of the month, we were producing 2,000 every day for University Hospital after Greg Shuford at the Summerville campus reached out to CoverTech president Rian True.
The hospital was using 2,000 disposable isolation gowns every day, and volunteers were not able to keep up with that demand. Within a day of meeting about this need, we produced prototypes with the materials we had on hand. It took about a week—and a few modifications to the original design—to ramp up to our current disposable hospital isolation gown production. We’ve
connected with nursing homes and rural hospitals who can benefit from these gowns, too.
Carolina CoverTech has been solution-oriented throughout our many years in business, and we enjoy the process of engineering products to meet the specific needs of our customers. We’re proud to add medical devices to the long list of high-quality products we create to meet the strictest demands and survive the most extreme conditions. From recreational vehicle accessories to portable building enclosures, safety rescue equipment, climate barriers, and more, we know we can help you find the solution you need. Contact us for more information about what we can do for you.
We’re always looking for talented people to join our CoverTech family on the production line, maintenance, seamstress, shipping & receiving, or machine operator teams. If you’re interested in a career with us, we’d love to hear from you!