CapFed Best News: Polo Custom Products repairs equipment for Stormont – News – The Topeka Capital-Journal
A company headquartered in Topeka has deviated from normal production in recent weeks to repair vital equipment used by doctors and nurses at Stormont Vail Health when treating coronavirus patients.
Polo Custom Products, 3601 SW 29th St., recently returned over 40 powered air purifying respirator hoods to Stormont after repairing these hoods for free at the company’s manufacturing facility in Monticello, Iowa.
“It’s kind of a part of our culture to help our communities in which we operate,” said Kent Lammers, president and CEO of Polo Custom Products. “When these opportunities arise, we do our best to be able to help.”
Repairing these types of hoods isn’t something his company normally tackles, Lammers says. Polo Custom Products generally designs and manufactures pieces of equipment used to manufacture products for the medical, defense, fire and security industries. Lammers said they need to give it a try to make sure they can fix the equipment to meet Stormont’s needs.
Lammers was first contacted about powered air purifying breathing hoods, or PAPR hoods, by Monica Waymire, Director of Commercial Operations at Stormont. She said an elastic band on the caps that goes under the chin to hold the gear in place tore, rendering the caps unusable – and replacing them wouldn’t have been easy.
“With everyone and the rest of the country, we were having backorder issues,” Waymire said. “We eventually had to throw away those balaclavas instead of being able to put them into circulation.”
PAPR hoods are worn by health workers who treat patients who test positive for the coronavirus. Waymire said they are protecting doctors and nurses from potential infection.
After speaking with Lammers, Waymire shipped one of the hoods to Polo Custom Products’ manufacturing facility, where the company’s product development team performed a trial repair.
“We did a first round of repairs and sent it back to Monica, and it wasn’t what they needed. It didn’t work,” Lammers said. “So we asked our purchasing manager here in Topeka to order some material. “
The material they needed was a rubbery elastic, similar in texture to a swim cap, Lammers said. After bringing in this material, he and someone from the Polo manufacturing plant set up a conference call with Waymire to discuss the repair process.
“From there, we knew exactly what we needed to do to fix them,” Lammers said.
They fixed a hood using the new material and sent it back to Stormont for review. This is exactly what the doctor ordered.
“Kent and his team came to our rescue and helped find this specific type of rubber band,” Waymire said. “It’s not like normal fabric elastic. It’s like a rubbery elastic, so it has to have a good seal in order to be able to use it.”
With a successful hood repair under its belt, Polo Custom Products proceeded with the remaining 42 PAPR hoods.
Waymire said Stormont is grateful for the company’s help, and she is grateful that there are community partners in Topeka that Stormont can reach out to.
“I think this is just a great example of how our community can really come together in support of our healthcare workers and our patients,” Waymire said. “Kent’s team were just amazing trying to come up with different ideas so I think it’s just a really great example of how we all work together.”