When Josh Montgomery found himself at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and suddenly with little to do, the computer science professor from Southern State Community College decided he wanted to make himself useful. With the help of a few dozen volunteers and nearly 100 3-D printers, he has proven himself useful to some of the most important people in the pandemic: health care workers.
It was an article in Forbes that inspired Montgomery to try manufacturing medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) using Southern State Community College’s array of 3-D printers. Julie Krebs, Southern State’s director of nursing, recommended sending them to local hospitals. When Nate Luke, a computer technology teacher at McClain High School in Greenfield, reached out to him with his own collection of printers hoping to send PPE to local medical facilities, a coalition was born.
“I made a social media post that day, and my email and Facebook just blew up,” Montgomery said.
Now, the group has a name and a game plan: the Southern Ohio Makers against COVID Coalition hopes to 3-D print as many plastic face shields as possible while the pandemic begins to rage in Southern Ohio hospitals.
“We moved as quickly as we could to mobilize,” Montgomery said. “It’s been really good for everyone.”
Over the weekend, 47 builders with 100-plus printers were working nearly around the clock to produce face shields for 27 medical organizations, including hospitals, funeral homes, mortuaries, urgent care facilities and dermatologists — all at no cost to the medical organizations.
With the help of Hillsboro attorney Susan Davis and her charity Soles for Students, the organization is protected from liability and has funding streams, Montgomery said. SOMACC runs through social media, and its main page is on Facebook at facebook.com/southernohiomakersagainstcovidcoalition. Donation options are available on the page.
According to Montgomery, SOMACC has more than 3,000 orders to fill. The group has arranged pick-up and drop-off of individual shield pieces in recent days, and Friday will be the first assembly day at the college’s Patriot Center in Hillsboro. Volunteers will stand six feet apart at medically sanitized stations, and Montgomery anticipates processing between 500 to 1,000 face shields.
Montgomery said he is just happy to be contributing to the fight against COVID-19 in his own way.
“When the COVID thing happened, I felt really depressed,” he said. “I was removed from my students and the people I can help, and I felt pretty bad. However, when SOMACC took off, I had a new mission. And I jumped in with both feet.”