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Area businesses switch things up for pandemic

As the pandemic continues to clamp down on numerous industries, more local manufacturers find ways to stay relevant and help those in need.

BeOn devices
BeOn devices

L3Harris Technologies this month began offering its BeOn software application for free to healthcare and public safety workers, allowing users to turn their smartphones, laptops and other devices into an encrypted public safety radio. This enables immediate communications to individuals or large talk groups.

L3Harris has made the service available for free for 90 days to agencies responding to COVID-19 operations.

Dana Mehnert
Dana Mehnert

“While first responders rely on handheld radios for their day-to-day communications, many of these healthcare heroes do not carry or have access to handheld public safety radios,” said Dana Mehnert, president of L3Harris’ Communication Systems, headquartered here. “Agencies that are currently using BeOn in their communities have called this offering a ‘game-changer’ for their COVID-19 response efforts as they are now able to connect many users from a variety of groups without having to issue, manage and sanitize handheld radios.”

Rochester-based Herogard, a health and wellness startup founded by scientists, doctors and engineers, is offering medical-grade filter face masks to the community. The masks are available for $25 for 30 and for every purchase, Herogard will donate masks to essential workers and marginalized communities who would otherwise not have access to vitally needed protection

The first beneficiary of the masks was Foodlink Inc., the regional food bank serving 10 counties in the Rochester area. Foodlink’s essential workers will receive the masks as they mobilize resources and distribute food to food-insecure households. Foodlink said the first donation of masks would be used by its kitchen workers.

Face mask produced by Century Mold (photo provided)
Face mask produced by Century Mold (photo provided)

In March, Century Mold, one of North America’s leading injection molders, began making medical face shields for local health care facilities. The arrangement was the result of a call from Rochester Regional Health and Rochester General Hospital, said Terry Hodge, Century Mold’s executive vice president.

“I could not be more proud of our team,” Hodge said in a statement at the time. “By working 20-plus hours a day … our team was able to apply our engineering, tooling and manufacturing expertise and fill a critical need for a very important new partner. We have always been willing to help others, but now we are helping our entire community better face the health challenge in front of us.”

BigSky Technologies LLC is a materials science company that manufactures textile finishes inspired by nature. The company recently said its GreenShield Co. division is responding to the global coronavirus pandemic by evaluating its products’ effectiveness in reducing the ability of the virus to contaminate and transmit on different surfaces.

20-0421-greenshield-logo-resizedA small amount of fluorochemical used in the GreenShield finish provides a surface that repels oil-based materials such as viruses. Because COVID-19 has an oily lipid outer layer, breaking the layer causes the virus to fall apart. Company officials said that when coming into contact with materials treated with GreenShield viruses do not adhere to the surface but rather roll off the surface structure, making the product particularly attractive for lab coats, surgical gowns and other protective clothing.

“The little bit of fluorochemical-based GreenShield C6XL goes a long way towards clean, safe surfaces on personal protective materials,” said Cathy Fleischer, managing partner and co-founder of BigSky Technologies. “In the crisis that we are dealing with, GreenShield treated fabrics are easy to clean, reduce their impact on the environment and increase health and safety.”

Xerox hand sanitizer (photo provided)
Xerox hand sanitizer (photo provided)

Xerox Holdings Corp. joins a list of local companies switching things up and manufacturing hand sanitizer from frontline healthcare workers. The document company expects to produce some 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer by June 2020 at its facilities in Webster and in Toronto.

“This is a time for every company, every person, to look at what they can do to help society,” Xerox Vice Chairman and CEO John Visentin said in a statement last week. “Essentials like hand sanitizer will continue to be in high demand. The team moved fast, figured out how to get over the hurdles and are starting to deliver product — all in under a month.”

Xerox, in a partnership with Vortran Medical Technology, is helping to speed and scale the production of the GO2Vent ventilator and related Airway Pressure Monitor for hospitals and emergency response units fighting the virus.

Carestream Health has increased production of its portable diagnostic imaging systems, noting that as unlikely facilities begin to function as urgent care units, the Rochester company’s DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray System and DRX-Revolution Nano Mobile X-ray System bring the X-ray exam to the patient’s bedside.

“Our manufacturing plans and warehouses are operating at full capacity with employees putting in long hours and extra days to support the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this exhausting fight,” said Charlie Hicks, Carestream’s general manager for premium tier solutions. “Likewise, Carestream suppliers and partners are ramping up production to help support this humanitarian crisis.”

Similarly, L-Tron Corp., a Victor firm that offers technology products and solutions to automate data capture, has tripled its mobile X-ray components, based on increased customer demand. L-Tron engineers supply custom-configured components for seamless integration into mobile X-ray machines and antibody blood analyzing tests, both of which are used for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and study by medical professionals.

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