Chicago community members, businesses build intubation boxes for local hospitals during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The state of Illinois has nearly 6,000 active COVID-19 cases and medical staff who are on the frontlines of the pandemic are running out of protective gear like face shields, gloves as masks.

As a result, most of those items are being donated by community members. Intubation boxes are no different.

"We place this box and it separates a physician that is intubating the patient from the patient itself," Dr. Zaman said. "It's almost like a physical barrier but you have the armholes to be able to maneuver any equipment that you potentially need. It just gives that extra layer of protection for those respiratory secretions to not flow into a physicians' face."

He first saw the boxes being used in Taiwan and he figured they'd work for American doctors too.

Dr. Zaman had a friend put up a Facebook post looking for help making a few, and it didn't take long to find it.

"It's just a matter of taking what you have and the abilities you have and using it as a means to help others in the process," maker Justin Haugens said.

Haugens made a few of the boxes in his home with materials he already had. He's also making 3-D printed face shields for another hospital in his neighborhood.

Chicago business owner Charles Grode was also a part of the project. He owns BGD & C Custom Homes, a Chicago-owned home building company.

He soon realized he wouldn't be able to produce the boxes himself, so he decided fund their production through Petersen Brothers Plastics, a Chicago-based plastic manufacturing company.
"The country has been so divided, it's about time that something brings us together. We don't have time to quibble about it. Just get the job done," Grode said.

Grode and Peteresen Plastics worked together to create the box design. In two days, the company produced 10 custom intubation boxes for the hospitals.

"This is something that affects everyone and we're more than happy to help in any way we can," Senior Project Manager Blake Hebert said. "It's wasn't even a decision of should we do this or not, it was 'okay this is what people need and this is what we can do.'"

In total, more than a dozen intubation boxes were hand-delivered to hospitals around Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

And until the pandemic is over, they're prepared to make as many as they need to.

"This brought tears to my eyes when I saw that there were people out there who in a moment's notice were able to make this happen," Dr. Zaman said. "A few days later we had this available to us, it was just amazing."

Jalyn Henderson is a Community Journalist at ABC 7 Chicago. She tells stories on the north side of Chicago in neighborhoods like Uptown, Edgewater, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, West Ridge and Rogers Park. If you have a story to share in these neighborhoods you can send an email to Jalyn.L.Henderson@abc.com
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