GORHAM, Maine — Maine companies are stepping up to help health care workers, given the shortage of critical personal protective equipment nationwide amid the COVID-19
pandemic.

CDC Director Nirav Shah confirmed Thursday that the state received more equipment from the national stockpile, but he still does not think it is enough to last.

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“Our supplies of PPE are adequate,” Dr. Dora Mills, with MaineHealth told NEWS CENTER Maine. “But we know we're using them in a much higher rate than we normally do.”

Officials at MaineHealth, which oversees the state’s largest hospital, Maine Medical Center, has been working over the last week to come up with ways to ensure it can keep up with the demand.

Gorham-based Flowfold reached out and offered to help.

“We realized that this put us in the best position to quickly help our local community,” Flowfold COO James Morin said.

The company known for its popular wallets and outdoor gear made of recycled sail cloth worked with MaineHealth to determine which equipment would be realistic to make.

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Within days, it started making its own version of a plastic face shield designed to protect providers full face from any possible droplet exposure from patients with COVID-19.

“We created a brand new company in eight days,” Morin said. “It was just the right thing to do.”

Morin said, like many businesses across the state, they were hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, so they chose to transition their manufacturing operation to PPE to keep running.

The company is on track to produce 3,000 shields by the end of the week and already made its first shipment of 1,000 to Maine Medical Center.

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"We're just so excited that we have a local manufacturer helping us out,” Dr. Mills said. “It was an amazing story to me that just one email and I thought, ‘Gosh what on earth could this group that does wallets and sports equipment do for us?’ But you know you just don't know and I think it's a great example of that old New England ingenuity."

Mills said MaineHealth is working with several other business as well, including L.L. Bean. The company  is also accepting donations.

"It's not just Flowfold. It's everywhere you see people trying to figure out how they can contribute and it's heartwarming and motivational and what keeps us going,” Morin said.

Flowfold expects to be able to continue sales of its product to other providers in the state, and maybe even across the country.

To see how you or your company can help go to MaineHealth.org/Donate.

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