Minden Medical Center nurse Jennifer Sunderland, her husband Dr. Jason Sunderland and friend Travis Watkins collaborated to hand-make about 300 plastic face masks for frontline healthcare workers at the Minden hospital.
Jennifer Sunderland is a 2015 graduate and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing at Northwestern State University. Her husband is a chiropractor at Sunderland Chiropractic in Minden.
Jennifer and Jason discussed the need at the medical center and after looking at plastic face shields decided to create their own. They purchased the plastics from Regal Plastics in Shreveport and contacted Watkins, who refined the design and set up a workshop in his house where the three put the masks together at night.
“We never did it for any type of recognition and didn’t even tell anybody we were doing it, but word eventually spread through the hospital and community after we dispersed them,” Jennifer Sunderland said.
“I am in the case management department at MMC and was aware how we were making efforts to prepare for COVID including preserving the PPE we had. My father-in-law works in plastics so it occurred to me that we potentially could get plastic from him and make face shields. When I presented the idea to my husband, he and a family friend, Travis Watkins, just ran with it! They are both ‘essential’ workers so after several trial runs and modifications, they fabricated and pieced together masks after work till the wee hours each night for about a week. They are now working to make another 300 face shields to donate to the Springhill Hospital, Memorial Medical Center in Homer, and surrounding clinics. They will be ready to deliver in the next day or two.”
The Sunderlands said they were able to cut the vinyl on a CNC router from All Builders Millworks in Ruston and designed a few different versions that could be laser cut by Blocker Torch Works in Shreveport. They eventually settled on a simple design that could be manufactured and assembled quickly.
Watkins said they were just doing their part to help keep frontline workers safe and thanked Enable Midstream Partners for allowing him to volunteer on company time, which helped bump up the delivery date.
“Honestly, we all just felt like it was the right thing to do,” Jason Sunderland said. “In times of crisis anyone who can help, should do so. And many people are stepping up in many different ways, but right now, who better to help than those on the front line. The doctors, nurses and all employees at the hospitals around the world deserve our love and respect because what they are doing is truly remarkable.”