By Norm Miller, LCNews
PINEVILLE, La. (LCNews) – An idea that began with the discovery of a social media post originating in Montana has quickly flown south to Louisiana and nested in the heart of Dr. Natalie Maxey, Assistant Professor of Engineering at Louisiana College.
Using a 3D printer in the school’s engineering lab, Maxey began on Wednesday, March 25, making frames for the protective face shields that are in demand by hospitals and clinics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maxey, who was looking for an opportunity to help, jumped in without hesitation. “My sister is a doctor, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her running short of what she needed to protect herself.”
All health care workers are somebody’s loved one, Maxey added, noting that local publicity on social media has fostered numerous companies to fire up their 3D printers and help. “This response represents my vision, because I can’t print the frames as quickly as the hospital needs them,” she said.
Based on a Facebook post, Maxey called the President of Louisiana College Dr. Rick Brewer about the project. Brewer called Jason Cobb, FACHE, Rapides Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer.
Brewer said Louisiana College could produce the much sought-after N-95 face mask – a 4-hour process on the 3D printer. Cobb said that he had an ample supply of those. Exercising foresight, however, Cobb later contacted Brewer, saying the hospital needed about 100 of the face shield frames. Each shield requires 75 minutes to create.
“We are thankful to our Louisiana College friends as they use their resources to help our community,” Cobb said. “As our hospital staff continue to care for patients on a daily basis, during a time in our history that’s unlike any we’ve ever known, it’s reassuring to know that community partners and friends are working with us to make sure we have everything we need to provide the best care possible. As always, our goal is to provide exceptional care to our patients while keeping our RRMC team and our Central Louisiana community healthy and safe.”
While Maxey was in the lab working, Brewer was a guest on KALB’s Good Day Cena. There he shared a few details about the project. Within an hour, Brewer received notice that a church wanted to donate $500 to the project. And before 24 hours had passed, more than $5,500 had been donated to help defray expenses and help buy another 3D printer.
“All across the United States, corporations and companies both large and small are pitching in to help others in these challenging days,” Brewer said. “I am glad for Louisiana College to do its part through the servant heart of Dr. Maxey, who came to us through God’s providence.”
Brewer recounted the partnership agreement that he and LaTech President Les Guice signed in September 2015 regarding Louisiana College’s pre-engineering students completing their degree at LaTech in Ruston, La.
A few months later at a Sunday lunch with a few church members, Brewer met Maxey and discovered she was facing an inconvenient relocation her employer would soon make. She could relocate or resign. Brewer knew right away he had found a professor to teach the pre-engineering courses needed to utilize the LaTech agreement.
With Maxey on board, Louisiana College still needed an engineering classroom. That’s when the Tara Terrill Engineering classroom in Cavanaugh Hall became reality. Tara’s parents
Jim and Mary Terrill donated $100,000 to outfit the room, including a 3D printer.
“I find it amazing, but not really surprising how God works,” Brewer said reflectively. “What we planted in 2015 is bearing life-saving fruit today. God has produced this harvest for such a time as this.”
Maxey said she is “doing what God created me to do. If what I do helps the community, shows the love of God, and glorifies our Lord, then that’s what I want to do.”