A Larger Initiative
Prior to COVID-19, Ulterra was introduced to Dr. Rita Patterson, Ph.D who is the Associate Dean for Research in the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Director of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Physical Medicine Core Research Facility and tenured Professor in the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine/Family Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC)
Dr. Patterson’s initial interaction with Ulterra began with her interest in taking undergraduate engineering students to tour Ulterra’s Fort Worth manufacturing facility. Upon the onset of COVID-19, Dr. Patterson reached back out to Ulterra with a larger initiative in mind. This communication showed various examples of how local companies pitched in to help local COVID-19 testing facilities. This inspired Ulterra to step in. At the time, the HSC’s drive-through testing site was exclusively open to local first-responders who were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Ulterra responded to the situation with a simple, “How can we help?”
Ulterra’s interest to step–in was then passed along to leaders at HSC, who were working with Chief Medical Officers and Senior Physicians in the area. HSC’s Senior Vice Provost, Chief Clinical and Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Chassay, reached out to a few people at Ulterra with an invitation to visit the facility.
During the visit, HSC had a gap in between administering tests, which presented Ulterra the opportunity to learn more about their process while revealing a couple limitations in operations. The resounding revelation was not necessarily to donate PPE, but to help with some gaps in communication.
Donating Cell Phones
Due to the layout of the testing facility, patients would naturally communicate with the volunteer by opening their car-door windows to check-in. The volunteer would then use their personal cell phone to communicate back to lead personnel, administering tests. To increase the safety of communication, maintain consistency, and decrease the use of personal cell phones, Ulterra donated two phones:
- A phone for the volunteer to use for communication back to the lead.
- A phone for the lead to use for communication with the volunteer and receive calls from patients who were looking to schedule appointments and directly contact the testing facility.
In addition to improving internal communication between volunteer and lead, HSC and patients now had a direct and consistent number.
Despite PPE not being a current hang-up at HSC, multiple people at Ulterra began to discuss utilizing their in-house 3D printer to start producing masks. Their research and collaboration lead to the printing of a Montana Mask. This design produces a single surgical mask that uses and reuses six pre-cut mask filters. Essentially making one N95 mask into six Montana Masks.
Using the MontanaMask.stl file, Ulterra’s team printed their first Montana Mask and successfully delivered it to HSC. HSC is now conducting their own testing on the Montana Mask to ensure the safety and reliability of the mask.
Helping HSC where we can
With the intention of solving a real pain-point felt by volunteers, faculty, and staff at HSC, Ulterra’s team was pleased to offer a solution to help smooth the flow of communication. Inspired by the initiatives of many, Ulterra’s people were proud to lend a hand to an organization that is making an impact in the local community.
Since the opening of the drive-through testing facility until April 30th, the HSC has administered 532 first responders and 179 public patients. To learn more about how the HSC has helped the community, visit their online newsroom.