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A Hermon company, Ntension, is now making 7000 face masks and shields a day for hospital use during coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic

From fabric displays to Personal Protective Equipment, Ntension is making PPE for workers at the Northern Light Health hospitals amid coronavirus, COVID-19

HERMON, Maine — Ntension normally makes fabric exhibits for trade shows and museums, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is making greatly needed masks and face shields for health workers.

Tim Plossay is the Associate Vice President of supply chain operations for Northern Light Health hospitals. He says these masks go through a filtration test, making sure they meet medical standards.

"There was a great concern about the availability of masks, so with that, the federal government, specifically the FDA, had relaxed some of the restrictions or approval levels for the masks... which allowed companies like Ntension, LLBean, and New Balance to be able to manufacture some of these to support the demand in the healthcare world," said Plossay.

Ntension went from initially making 400 masks and shields a day to 7,000 each a day. The company is trying to ramp up the production of masks and shields to be able to help other hospitals and facilities in the state. 

They answered the call to help: A Hermon business and our supply chain solving the mask shortage

Ntension Corporation, based in Hermon, is normally in the business of creating tension fabric exhibits for trade shows and museums. Still, when the American Hospital Association called on American manufacturers to help build 100 million face masks to address a critical shortage, Ntension reached out to Northern Light Health. Our supply chain team worked with NTension to design, test, and manufacturer face masks and face shields for use by Northern Light Health employees during this coronavirus public health emergency. To learn more about the Northern Light Health response please visit northernlighthealth.org/Resources/COVID-19.

Posted by Northern Light Health on Monday, April 27, 2020

"It was something that I knew I could position the company to help out," said Scott Biehn, the president of Ntension.

Biehn took a slowly but surely approach to the pandemic's economic reality.  

"We had started to downsize, and furlough and then immediately from the transition...slowly we had to re-tool, re-calibrate, purchase new equipment, and then we started to call people back immediately," said Biehn.

Biehn says the company is taking all of the precaution methods to make sure the 40 employees that are currently working stay safe inside the facility. Methods that also include meals, that way workers don't have to leave the facility for lunch or for a snack.

Northern Light tells NEWS CENTER Maine their ten hospitals and more than 120 facilities all use around 10 thousand masks a day and almost as many shields. 

These are being used: "by all clinical staff and all employees throughout the medical centers," said Plossay.

The masks have been tested by the clinical engineering department at Northern Light Health, the University of Maine advanced manufacturing department and Maine manufacturers association to make sure the Ntension masks and shields are up to medical standards before use.

"They collected a lot of samples and went through a lot of testing to make sure that the filtration was adequate if not better," said Plossay.

Nowadays Northern Light Health hospitals and facilities is meeting the PPE needs because of efforts being done at companies like Ntension.

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