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Redmond-based company now making PPE for local heath care workers

Genie typically makes construction equipment but is now producing face masks and shields for Overlake Medical Center.

REDMOND, Wash. — As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic takes a toll on hospitals, many companies in the Puget Sound region are jumping in to help make critical equipment for health care workers on the front lines.

Now, a western Washington company typically known for making construction equipment is helping create personal protective equipment (PPE) for Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.

Redmond-based Genie is not too far from the hospital, which has been taking care of patients battling COVID-19. Company leaders said the move to help started with an engineer who came up with a prototype for a face shield.

“One of our engineers on a weekend went to Home Depot and got a piece of plastic and foam to put across the headband, and bungee material, and he made a mask,” said Genie President Matt Fearon.

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The company figured out how to quickly produce face shields and face masks for Overlake Medical Center. The hospital, like so many others, needs more PPE to help protect its staff from the virus while treating patients.

This week, a room at Genie was turned into a PPE production facility. Workers who are usually dealing with steel and hydraulics are now making 4,000 face shields and churning out a face mask a minute.

“The engineers looked at how do we make masks. They explained what they wanted and they took a piece of weld wire to the bridge of the nose, they realized they weren't good at sewing, so they came up with a way of heat sealing,” explained Fearon.

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Genie engineers are also 3D printing a plastic part that allows Overlake doctors and nurses to wear some protective suits that had been sitting in storage. The hospital had 300 hoods that were going unused because they did not connect properly to a tube that filters the air. With this new part that Genie made, the hospital can now use these suits to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Our Genie team was anxious to help, the Overlake team pointed us in the direction of the highest need, and together, we made great things happen,” said Fearon.

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