Originally posted on Dow.com
Whirlpool Corporation, Dow, and Reynolds Consumer Products Collaborate to Manufacture and Donate Much-Needed Respirators Through WIN Health Labs, LLC
· Companies create an alternative PPE solution to quickly address diminishing supply of N95 respirators and masks for healthcare workers
· Dow and Whirlpool Corporation donating 1,000 respirators each to healthcare facilities in Louisiana, Michigan, and Texas
Whirlpool Corporation, Dow and Reynolds Consumer Products are pleased to announce a collaboration to provide much-needed respirators to the heroic men and women in healthcare who are working on the frontlines to combat the spread of COVID-19. The joint project is a protective piece of headgear and respirator system that will be manufactured and sold through WIN Health Labs, LLC, in addition to an initial donation to hospitals.
“We are using our supply of N95 masks and respirators at a rate 10 times higher than normal,” said Loren B. Hamel, MD, president of Spectrum Health Lakeland in St. Joseph, Michigan, near Whirlpool Corporation’s Global Headquarters. “These are some of the most critical medical supplies to help ensure the safety of frontline workers who are often in direct contact with patients infected with the virus.”
The personal protective equipment (PPE) created by the joint team is a powered, air-purifying respirator, or PAPR, which takes the place of a traditional medical mask and visor and features a replaceable polyethylene hood. The clear hoods are both flexible and comfortable, and can quickly be replaced between patients.
Each of the companies was looking for ways to help, and through those efforts this unique collaboration was born. “Volunteers within each of the companies began reaching out to local healthcare providers to inquire how they could be helpful,” said Christian Gianni, President of WIN Health Labs and VP of Technology for Whirlpool Corporation. “In order to accelerate the design process, we created a virtual, agile team that was able to go from paper to approved product in just seven weeks. Through this unique relationship and a huge amount of effort by a very talented group of people, we are now manufacturing respirators and are in a position to help our frontline healthcare providers.”
Whirlpool Corporation designed, manufactured and assembled the headset. Dow provided the polyethylene resin for the hoods, and Reynolds Consumer Products, makers of Hefty® brand, designed and produced the disposable hood. Volkswagen of America brokered connections with materials and supply chain partners to source critical components.
“This collaboration is a testament to the private sector’s continued commitment and quick actions to work across industries to innovate healthcare solutions at a time of unprecedented need,” said Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO, Dow. “Team Dow is proud to be a part of this effort, and to continue to contribute our time, talent and material science expertise in the fight against COVID-19.”
Two thousand units are being produced in the first phase for donation to hospitals located in regions where Whirlpool and Dow have operations, as well as other hospitals in need of PPE. To get the needed PPE to as many healthcare providers as possible, the Hefty® team is donating the first 1 million hoods. “We are pleased to be able to contribute to this solution to provide PPE that is both safe and effective. Supplies will be available so they can use a fresh barrier as needed,” said CEO, Lance Mitchell, Reynolds Consumer Products. “Multiple companies providing their expertise have moved this project forward quickly at a time when it was most needed.”
The response to COVID-19 is ongoing and will be for some time, according to Nicki Britten, health officer for the Berrien County, Michigan Health Department. “Without the needed PPE for our essential healthcare workers, we will continue to see further spread of the virus, ultimately resulting in more lives lost due to COVID-19.”
The respirator is in production and is made available in a shortened time frame under guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization authority, which allows the agency to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures needed during public health emergencies.
“We recognize the bravery and commitment of healthcare workers throughout this crisis, ” said Marc Bitzer, chairman and CEO, Whirlpool Corporation. “Working with Dow and Reynolds, we are honored to provide this critical equipment to frontline healthcare workers to help them protect themselves and their patients while they battle this pandemic.”