Face shields for Mexican healthcare workers

The Mexico Makers association creates acetate face shields to protect doctors and nurses from coronavirus

COVID-19: Mexicans create face shields for coronavirus-fighting workers
The project wants to donate up to 4k shields to healthcare workers in April – Photo: Carlos Mejía/EL UNIVERSAL
English 07/04/2020 16:49 Mexico City Cristina Hernández Actualizada 17:01
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Abraham Trujillo coordinates the Mexico Makers team that creates acetate face shields to protect doctors and nurses from coronavirus. The idea was born from conversations with people in Spain who told him how the situation was in that country and the way they found to guard themselves against the virus,

The masks are made from acetate, such as the one used in PET bottles, and they can protect eyes, nose, and mouth for these are the main ways through which a person can become infected with COVID-19.

They told Abraham that the situation was very similar to how it began in Mexico. There were also shortages in the health sector. With their recommendations, he began to organize an association.

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In Mexico City, the association is made up of Mark Escobedo, who has a design workshop where masks are printed. Diego Villegas coordinates the delivery of the donations to hospitals in the city. However, the association is also present in other states in the country.

Mark asserts that when the first phase of the contingency began, there was less work for many of his clients stopped the orders they had made.

That is why they thought of looking for an option to help with workforce and their machines. That is how they joined the team created by Abraham.

Networks like this have been created in other countries because there is contact with Italy and Ukraine. Now, they are doing it all around the world by using their machines and donating materials to deliver the shields to the health sector,” asserts Escobedo.

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Acetate against COVID-19
“The mask we’re making is made with a material that is 100% recyclable and ecologic so that doctors can use them a single time. It is made in a fast and non-expensive way,” adds Mark.

It has three elements: one is the main visor, the front that is used to create a space between the face and the plastic. Hence, it has the distance to be able to use googles, glasses, or N95 masks. An elastic band can be put under it in order to curve it according to the face.

Due to the kind of material, it can only be disinfected or sanitized with traditional and recommended methods. It can be done directly with alcohol.

It can be cleaned with a soft handkerchief and so it lasts approximately two weeks. The shield is to protect the mucosa from the contact of saliva,

If used by common people, these shields can be reused as long as the material is not damaged or scratched.

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The shield only protects from person-to-person contact so that saliva is not spread from one person to another. That is its main function.

“That is why they are being sent to nurses and doctors who are the first line of contention because they are at a higher risk. It is intended for those who received suspected COVID-19 cases,” says Escobedo.

Mark asserts that comfort is first because it is a gear used by medical staff from 6 to 8 hours at least, “what they want is to feel comfortable. Other models are closer to the face but they tarnish the lenses.”

“Those who have bought them from us also use them because they are in direct contact with the public, such as in restaurants, bakeries, and other food places,” asserts Mark.

The recommendation is for doctors to work with medical masks and the acetate shield as protection barriers. Some experts in epidemiology with whom the team has worked have stressed the importance of protecting the eyes.

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They are creating other kinds of shields, some of them are in 3D. This one is exclusively for donation and not for sale because their manufacture takes nearly two hours. The ones that are made with plastic take only a minute plus the assembly time.

There are approximately 800 members of this association all over Mexico. In Mexico City, there are approximately 40 people in charge of printing and distribution.

The design is made on computer and sent to cutting. With an acetate plaque, they can create up to 12 masks. The process takes approximately 15 minutes to cut the whole plaque.

The discarded material is used for other kinds of objects, such as business cards, in order to recycle. It is also sent to recycling centers.

“We are currently working on our own resources. The masks we make here cost MXN $40, it costs us MXN $20 to make and the other MXN $20 guarantee the donation of another,” says Mark Escobedo.

“Masks that save lives”
Diego Villegas took the masks to doctors in La Raza hospital who tried and said it was useful. They even asked how many of them they could make. Since that moment, they began making several masks.

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, Abraham Trujillo, founder of the project in Mexico asserts that if he had to describe with a word how doctors have received this material it would be “gratefulness.”

“They were surprised. We spoke to the director of a hospital in Guerrero; when we went to deliver the masks, people thought we were selling them. When we said they were donations, they wanted to help too,” remembers Abraham.

This work is a satisfaction to him, “mainly because with something so small and easy to make you can help a person.” The main objective is to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection within the health sector.

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Until now, four doctors have died because of COVID-19 in Mexico, according to the numbers of the Mexican Institute of Social Service (IMSS).

The team asserts that their philosophy is “to make something useful to save our lives or those of our loved ones. The labor of these doctors must be recognized and that is why we’re doing this, as a way to help them.”

By mid-April, they seek to fulfill a goal of 3,000 to 4,000 delivered masks; until now, they have donated 1,800. The first health center where they took them was the La Raza hospital but they have also made donations to hospitals in other donations.

“What we have thought as Mexico Makers is to also produce protection barriers made with acrylic,” says Mark, who also asserts that this shows, once more, the solidarity that characterizes Mexicans and makes them get ahead from catastrophes and natural disasters and this will not be the exception.

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