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DHR Health creates conservation team to develop PPE

National healthcare organizations have seen shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) supply during the COVID-19 global pandemic. DHR Health anticipated the needs and established a PPE Conservation Team to provide innovative methods to create and sustain adequate PPE in order to maintain a safe environment for their patients, workforce and community during this pandemic.

The DHR Health PPE Conservation Team has innovatively developed the following:

  • 16,500 surgical masks
  • 300 intubation drapes
  • 275 face shields

The DHR sewing team crafting masks. Courtesy photo

“We’re proud of the innovation occurring within DHR Health, it demonstrates our leadership in healthcare,” said Robert Martinez, Chief Physician Executive and Chief Medical Officer of DHR Health and leader of the hospital’s COVID-19 Task Force and Incident Command Center.  “Producing our own PPE further safeguards the ability to protect our clinical and nonclinical employees while continuing to provide outstanding healthcare to our community.”

PPE refers to protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks and/or respirators or other equipment designed to protect the user from injury or the spread of infection or illness.   When used properly, PPE acts as a barrier between infectious materials such as viral and bacterial contaminants and your skin, mouth, nose, or eyes (mucous membranes).

PPE Conservation Team

DHR Health developed a PPE Conservation Team. The team consists of physician leadership, Dr. Lawrence Gelman, Dr. Carlos Garcia Cantu, Dr. Marissa Gomez-Martinez, Nancy Garcia, DHR Health Surgical Services and Procedural Services staff (Main OR, Day Surgery, Cardiovascular and Woman’s Hospital) along with staff from the following departments: Sterile Processing, Scheduling, Admitting, Nursing, Surgery, Endoscopy, Revenue Cycle, Financial Services and other areas where employees are volunteering their time.

Surgical Masks

Surgical masks (face masks) are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face.  As of today, 16,500 masks have been manufactured by the DHR Health team and a team of 14 dedicated individuals are producing 1,000 surgical masks a day. The surgical masks have been produced by DHR Health staff members using materials already found in the Operating Room Department. The material used is a sterile wrapping normally used to wrap surgical instrument trays to help protect the sterility of the surgical instruments. The innovative mask uses two-ply spun polypropylene that cannot be penetrated by water, bacteria or particles and blocks 99.9% of particulates.

“Our experience with making the DHR polypropylene masks, has been an amazing one. We have a unified group of workers who have been nothing but helpful & goal oriented towards helping in producing these masks for all the DHR employees amidst this crisis, states Barbara Caraveo, DHR Health employee who has been critical in the development and management of the sewing team.  “Their enthusiasm, dedication and positivity since day one, has helped in the steady and fast production of these masks. I feel honored and proud of having an exemplary team making things possible for our DHR hospital”.


Three hundred Intubation drapes have also been produced by the DHR Health CVOR team.  These drapes provide a physical barrier protecting our healthcare providers from aerosolization exposure. The material used is a clear plastic with customization for providers arms to access patient and easy access to patient’s airway.

“I’m very proud of our innovative and talented employees for coming together during this unprecedented time to develop and implement numerous innovative ideas during this pandemic” said Nancy Garcia, DHR Health’s Chief Clinical Officer. “The employees participating in the innovative projects feel a sense of accomplishment being able to provide support for their peers. Our staff is grateful for the copious efforts to provide and secure additional PPE’s”.

Face Shields

Face Shields are an important piece of PPE. Surgical Face Shields provide facial protection against splash and splatter of fluid-borne pathogens. The Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance (ECCR) Team were self-motivated and created the shields.  Two individuals took the lead and have produced a total of 275 and are producing 50 face shields a day.  They first started producing these masks for their families and then decided to ask upper administration to help DHR Health and others in the community.  The material has generously been provided by SID’s Upholstery and the team has even donated 60 of these masks to the Sheriff’s Department, Pharr Police Department and Edinburg Police Department.

“They took the initiative to see how they could help out and decided to go above and beyond looking for ways to be cost effective to help others during this time’, states, John Garza, Director at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

The idea of producing PPE evolved from staff wanting to help out in any way possible.  The production idea was brought up to DHR Administration and the PPE Conservation Team and from there other ideas developed and were executed.  While others around the country are seeing a decline in PPE, DHR Health is preparing to have adequate PPE in order to stay ahead of the pandemic.  DHR Health’s main focus is patient care and providing all staff with the equipment necessary to contain COVID-19.

For more information about the DHR Health’s Innovations, please call R-Myna Evans at (956) 362-3100.

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