Brian Goldberg has worked security at Stanford Hospital for 10 years. Just like the medical staff there, he has to wear a surgical mask at all times to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. And, just like everyone who dons a medical mask, he found out how quickly the straps chafe and become uncomfortable to wear.
Goldberg, 38, owns an industrial laser as part of his business, LED Booth Signs, where he makes acrylic light-up signs and does custom engraving. He started thinking about solutions to deal with the uncomfortable fit of medical masks. The answer came with a ready supply of acrylic and an open source design to manufacture mask clips.
“We have to wear masks 24/7 and I saw there was a need for these mask clips due to the irritation these masks do to our ears,” Goldberg said. “We have a fair number of officers in our department and I took it upon myself to laser engrave enough of these clips to supply to them.”
News of Goldberg’s mask clips traveled through the hospital and he began making them for the rest of the staff.
“I got a lot of feedback, not just from my department level but from an organizational level and beyond,” he said.
Since making his first mask clip a week and a half ago, Goldberg has provided over 300 of them to his co-workers at Stanford Hospital. He said he can make 200 clips per batch in an hour and a half.
Goldberg started posting on social media to let people know about his efforts. He got a boost when the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce posted about his clips as well, ending up with inquiries nationwide from medical staff, doctors, nurses, and other security personnel who wanted to purchase.
“Brian is a truly amazing human being,” said Michelle Leonard, Chamber CEO. “I am so proud of his motivation in quickly retooling his business to fill this need.”
For Goldberg, making the mask clips is a gesture of goodwill toward those on the front line fighting the coronavirus.
“When people ask me how much they are, I don’t give a price. Everything is donation-based,” Goldberg said. “So I do not sell them, but we do take donations for materials.”
Even after producing over 2,000 clips, the demand outweighs the supply.
“I never turn anyone down,” Goldberg said. “If they say ‘this is all I can give,’ I’m very grateful for whatever anyone can donate.”
Open source designs for medical equipment have proven to be a resource to allow craftsmen and hobbyists to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus. One Facebook group, Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies, matches projects and design templates with people who have the resources to make equipment or parts. The group also offers a forum for people who want to share their projects.
One forum post is from Heather Roney, the mother of Canadian Boy Scout Quinn Callander, 12, who has been 3D printing mask clips. Roney said, “Quinn researched a few design ideas and printed prototypes for our nurse friend to test out.”
The pattern, called the Surgical Mask Strap, came from Thingiverse, which has a forum dedicated to open source projects designed to help with the pandemic response. People who own 3D printers can download the patterns for free if they are interested in contributing.
Callandar had produced dozens of the straps when the post went viral, which encouraged others to download the design and begin producing them as well.
In the same spirit, Goldberg is encouraging others to make mask clips themselves and said he will provide the design template to anyone who contacts him for it. The response from those who have received the clips has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I want everybody to know this is from the heart,” Goldberg said. “I’m not making any money off of this. I just want to see that our health care people and first responders are taken care of.”
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