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Oklahoma State University

OSU-CHS student co-founds organization making face shields for health care workers

May 1, 2020

Rebecca Gaglia working on her computer
Rebecca Gaglia is a medical and doctoral student at OSU Center for Health Sciences. She also serves as the volunteer coordinator for Makers4Medicine, a group that makes and donates face shields for health care workers.

TULSA— Rebecca Gaglia, a second-year medical student and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student at OSU Center for Health Sciences, was on spring break when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Oklahoma in March. Watching the news and seeing what was happening in the state and across the country, she wondered if she would be able to go back to school when spring break was over.

Looking for ways to relieve her stress in a constructive way, she scrolled through Facebook and found there were people making face shields for health care workers, two of them were fellow Tulsa residents Josh and Cherylyn Painter. The couple were using multiple 3D printers to print and construct face shields.

“The three of us created a Facebook Group — Makers4Medicine — so we could gather all these volunteers who were making face shields together and it just blew up,” said Gaglia, who serves as the volunteer coordinator. “I just thought ‘I have to do this. I have to help.’ The opportunity was there, and [the Painters] were so motivated.”

Since March 21, the Painters and a core group of about 30 volunteers — many of them OSU-CHS students — have made nearly 7,500 face shields that have been donated to health care workers across the country working in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, dental offices, medical laboratories and even fire departments.

"It relieved a lot of my anxiety that I could do something. It gives people an outlet and to feel less frustrated. It does feel good."

-- Rebecca Gaglia

In addition to supplying 2,700 face shields to Tulsa-area hospitals, the group has had requests for shields from frontline workers in New York, Florida and California. She has also worked to get more than 1,000 face shields sent to several rural hospitals and clinics across Oklahoma including the Choctaw Nation, Drumright, Pawhuska, Prague, Mangum, Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Vian. And when she heard about the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation, she worked with the tribe’s health department to send them face shields as well. 

“It’s like a job now. We’re not planning on stopping until the need is met,” said Gaglia, who is also taking care of her coursework as a medical and doctoral student.

A 3D printed face shield
A 3D printed face shield by Makers4Medicine

“It’s hard. Luckily, Makers4Medicine has gotten to a point where it’s pretty steady and I have a core group of volunteers I can schedule out,” she said. “Josh and Cherylyn do a lot of the heavy lifting.”

For people who don’t have the time or equipment to make the face shields, there are still ways they can help, Gaglia said, including purchasing face masks for health care workers, donating money to cover the cost of materials and shipping, or directly purchasing supplies through Makers4Medicine’s Amazon Wish List.

Working on the volunteer side of the project, Gaglia doesn’t hear from the recipients a lot, but she knows what they’re doing is making an impact because she has friends and colleagues who are working on the frontlines.

“They’re grateful, really grateful. It’s frustrating to be asked to sacrifice yourself because you might not have the proper protection,” she said, which is why what Makers4Medicine is doing is so important. “It’s a heavy job but it’s something we have to do.”

To learn more about Makers4Medicine or find out how you can help, go to makers4medicine.org.

 

Sara Plummer | Communications Coordinator | 918-561-1282 | sara.plummer@okstate.edu