Protecting the Protectors: LSU Kicks Off PPE Manufacturing in PMAC
University leverages its research, medical expertise to battle pandemic on the front lines
April 13, 2020
BATON ROUGE – With support from the State of Louisiana, LSU today begins large-scale production of personal protective equipment, or PPE in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, or PMAC, as part of its statewide response to support medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PMAC PPE production effort unifies LSU’s innovation, research, expertise, assets and facilities into a single purpose-driven initiative: Protecting Louisiana’s doctors and nurses through bold and creative efforts to fill shortages in critical equipment, specifically gowns and face shields.
The entire LSU community is working together to support Louisiana’s fight against COVID-19. Activating the PMAC in the very heart of campus as a medical emergency operation—as it was when LSU cared for victims of Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago—and developing a novel and safe production environment underscores LSU’s complete commitment to its statewide mission.
Within the PMAC, LSU employees are actively working with physicians in New Orleans and Shreveport to develop and produce two types of critically necessary PPE: Heavy-duty, reusable gowns made from billboard vinyl donated by Lamar Advertising and Circle Graphics, and face shields with donated materials and design feedback from Baker Hughes.
“At every pivotal moment in our history, the LSU community has come together for the good of our state and our nation,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan. “What’s happening today is an example of our university’s unwavering commitment to providing solutions to the most challenging problems facing society. I am proud of the outstanding and innovative work being conducted by our faculty, staff and students in the face of such great adversity.”
“We are proud to see the response being rallied at LSU,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Not only is the flagship ramping up PPE production and testing capabilities, but the Health Sciences Centers in New Orleans and Shreveport are doing a phenomenal job of treating and testing as well. The entirety of the LSU family has responded to this health crisis and are making a difference for the people of Louisiana through their innovation and commitment.”
The gown project began in the garage of LSU Medical Physics Program Director Wayne Newhauser. Working with Biomedical Engineering student Meagan Moore and in partnership with the Bella Bowman Foundation, Newhauser began developing prototypes for gowns and other PPE as shortages of the important gear made headlines across the nation. The university’s COVID-19 response team assessed the gown design and determined it could be scaled, and under the directive of Interim President Tom Galligan, began assembling a cross-campus team to bring the operation to reality.
Staffed entirely by LSU employees, the PMAC operation will rely on comprehensive security and health measures as well as close coordination with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, or GOHSEP, to ensure the safety of its people and the production environment. University personnel from Athletics, Facility Services, Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Operations, Industry Engagement, and Research & Economic Development collaborated to turn the PMAC into a safe, real-scale fabrication space.
The PMAC effort is made possible through expertise across campus: The Theater Department donated sewing machines and helped adjust the design of the gowns to fit the recommendations from GOHSEP and physicians; Facility Services worked with the College of Engineering’s Advanced Manufacturing and Machining Facility, or AMMF, to fabricate custom metal stencils for the gown’s creation; Athletics is facilitating the use of the PMAC and supporting logistical and communications efforts; and Environmental Health & Safety designed a safe and operational space that facilitates scaled production. A further example of community partnership in the project includes Coca-Cola, Baton Rouge, donating drinks for those working in the PMAC each day. As output expands, LSU will continue to bring expertise from every area of campus as well as new partners to support new initiatives.
“Crises like the one we face today illustrate why research universities exist,” added Galligan. “We will make it through this pandemic by working together and ensuring that LSU’s efforts from Shreveport to New Orleans make it to those on the front lines of this fight.”
For those interested in supporting this effort, donations can be made at http://c-fund.us/rhl.
To learn more about LSU’s fight against COVID-19, visit https://www.lsu.edu/coronavirus/response/.
Beyond PPE production, LSU’s collective COVID-related efforts to date have been wide-ranging and extensive, including:
- Establishing coronavirus testing facilities at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s River Road Laboratory, and LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.
- Initiating clinical trials measuring the safety and efficacy of drugs like hydroxychloroquine and potential treatments like inhaled nitric oxide against the virus;
- Coordinating PPE collection and donation from LSUA, LSUE, and LSUS;
- Facilitating extension, outreach and education through LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the LSU AgCenter; and
- Funding and managing rapid innovation in gown and shield PPE design, UV-based mobile
sterilization technology, and large-scale hand sanitizer production in Baton Rouge.
Media interested in touring the operation, please contact Ernie Ballard, media relations director, at 225-978-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations