As a growing number of healthcare workers join the front lines to battle the global COVID-19 pandemic, or Coronavirus, here in America, there is critical need for basic personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them PPE which is now in short supply in many areas across America.
South Carolina entrepreneurs and industry leaders are stepping up in unprecedented ways to protect these first responders and to defeat the global pandemic.
Joel Edwards, CEO of Greenville’s Humimic Medical, decided his organization could do something about it even though his company did not manufacture essential equipment like face masks, face shields, swabs, or gloves. Edwards estimated that if his team could re-purpose their own product designs and manufacturing capacity, they could deliver a quality version of these critical supplies at relatively low price-points mirroring the approach for their existing synthetic gel and medical trainer products. With help from Deborah Herbert, President of Multiplastics in Mt. Pleasant, the company had plans and suppliers in place in less than 48 hours to deliver 80,000+ face shields over the next few weeks.
“As we sat around the table during a team meeting last week, we found ourselves asking each other how we can help,” said Edwards. “We knew we had to make something happen fast to make a difference, because healthcare workers don’t need something 3-4 weeks from now, they need it now.”
The Humimic team picked up drafting pencils and phones to devise a plan they could execute quickly, and had designs and suppliers lined up within one day and working prototypes ready to scale up 24 hours later.
The speed and agility demonstrated by Humimic Medical is not only a testament to the company’s ability to pivot and respond to market needs, but also showcases the rich, collaborative ecosystem that has emerged within South Carolina. Edwards was able to leverage relationships with physicians in a nearby health system to validate the design, tap vendor and supplier relationships through South Carolina’s Department of Commerce, and gain key insights and connections through groups like SCBIO, the South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization, which serves as the life science community’s catalyst for building, advancing and growing the industry.
Added SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros, whose team was able to rapidly connect Humimic with key contacts to deliver the new face shields where they are needed most,“We continue to live our mission of being the life sciences industry convener, and that’s more important than ever right now.”
“SCBIO has been a tremendous asset in this process” said Edwards. “Their team has walked right alongside of ours to ensure we maximize this opportunity to serve our front-line healthcare workers.”
He also hinted that Humimic Medical isn’t stopping with face shields either, as they work to develop other key supplies in short supply including a novel nasal swab and innovative re-usable face masks.
“The need is great, and we’re committed to making a difference during this time of need,” he added.