Steelcase manufacturing health care supplies

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Courtesy Steelcase

A local office furniture manufacturer is making personal protective equipment for health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grand Rapids-based Steelcase said last week that it is manufacturing critical equipment supplies for health care providers, including masks for use in clinical environments; facial shields for clinicians in direct contact with patients; and social screens, desktop- and floor-mounted, for screening and communicating with visitors at safe social distances.

Steelcase also is using its plants, model shop and innovation center to rapidly develop solutions that will be built to scale and distributed to medical facilities.

The company is working in partnership with health care professionals to approve designs for prompt turnarounds.

Steelcase is set to produce 6,000 isolation masks and 12,500 face shields per week, just in its Grand Rapids facilities.

The company is working to expand production to other areas, as well, including Alabama, Mexico and Germany.

“This is an extraordinary crisis that requires a strong, coordinated, global response,” said Jim Keane, president and CEO of Steelcase.

“Steelcase is proud to join this fight and deploy every possible resource we have to support our communities, hospitals and health care workers with the equipment they need to keep us healthy and safe. The outpouring of support from Steelcase employees looking for ways they can get involved is profoundly humbling. I am so proud of this team.”

Steelcase also is collaborating with other manufacturers to share best practices and accelerate the production of health care equipment that supports physicians, nurses and hospitals as they treat patients.

This coordinated effort is providing face mask design templates and fabric mask assembly instructions for other businesses and individuals seeking ways to help produce this equipment. Steelcase will begin broadly sharing designs — urging all apparel manufacturers, furniture manufacturers and anyone with a sewing machine to join the efforts.

Instructions for how to get involved can be found here.

Additionally, Steelcase is working with community health care partners, such as Spectrum Health and Mercy Health, to help protect health care workers on the frontlines of this battle. In a very short period, Steelcase prototyped and produced clear plexiglass barriers to help protect Spectrum employees tasked with screening visitors who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

“We’ve seen an incredible amount of strength and courage of Michiganders during this time of uncertainty, whether it’s from communities donating food, money and resources to those that need it or from businesses using their technology to manufacture personal protective equipment,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

“This action from Steelcase will help us protect health care professionals on the front lines and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I’m proud to work with Steelcase and every business that steps up during this time to protect Michigan families.”

Steelcase is ensuring employees who are working to develop the critical equipment are protected by enforcing social distancing, using personal protection equipment and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing facilities.

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