John F. Kennedy Middle School seventh grader Rhea Shah and her sister, Plainfield Ea Roochi Shah, a senior at Plainfield East High School, wanted to make face shields for those serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though they don’t have a 3D printer.
The sisters learned about the demand for face shields from their mom, Dr. Kalpana Shah, who is a dentist at Primary Family Dental in Joliet and Plano Family Dental in Plano.
Dr. Kalpana Shah is still treating patients on an emergency basis while the dental offices are closed during the pandemic, Rhea said.
“A couple weeks into the pandemic, my mom didn’t feel comfortable treating patients without the proper [personal protective equipment],” Rhea said.
It became increasingly difficult to find personal protective equipment on the shelves, and available equipment was expensive, Rhea said.
To help keep their mom safe at work, Rhea and Roochi bought supplies to make face shields of their own.
It took a lot of trial and error to assembly a proper face shield, Rhea said. “We didn’t want to send out face shields that wouldn’t protect the healthcare professionals, so we spent a lot of time learning how to make them functional,” Rhea added.
Once they mastered the process, the siblings set out on a mission to make more to donate to healthcare professionals in the community.
Rhea and Roochi can assemble a face shield in about 15 minutes, Rhea said. They have made nearly 50 face shields using flexible elastic and plastic so far and have donated them to St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet and offices in Michigan.
The Shah sisters plan to make more face shields once they receive more elastic and their newly purchased 3D printer arrives in May.