NSCAD University professor Gary Markle is part of a team leading research into protecting healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project, Innovations in Sustainable PPE Fabric: Local Solutions for a Global Issue, is a joint endeavor with Dr. John Frampton and his team at Dalhousie University. Markle and Frampton have been awarded $50,000 from the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition funding competition to investigate the prospect of a personal protective equipment (PPE) fabric that is sustainable and locally produced on demand, with a much reduced supply chain.
“We will develop a prototype textile that can be used to locally manufacture personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks and garments, to deal with shortfalls in global supply chains, all of which can be produced in the Maritimes,” explained Markle, an Associate Professor, Craft (Textiles) at NSCAD. “This is a project with local roots and a global reach, in the time of COVID-19. Projects like this demonstrate how craft can have a significant Impact for medical, speculative and economical futures for Nova Scotia in the new normal.”
During normal circumstances, hospitals and clinics rely on international supply chains for supply of their PPE. However, the emergence of COVID-19 has overwhelmed the capacity of these supply chains, leaving medical professionals around the world insufficient access to PPE, such as surgical masks and N95 respirators.
The ability to identify PPE materials and manufacturing strategies that are less reliant on international supply chains is of critical importance for addressing shortfalls in medical supplies during the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics or disruptions.
“This is research that will have an immediate and lasting impact on the well-being of our frontline healthcare workers,” said Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, Vice-President (Academic and Research), NSCAD University. “On behalf of faculty and staff at NSCAD, I want to congratulate Gary and Dr. Frampton on securing this research funding. This is a great example of how we can all work together and leverage our collective strengths to make a difference during this trying time.”