The collaboration that the Charleston Metro Chamber has seen amongst our members and business people in the community during this uncertain time has been astounding. SAIC is one of those members that are dedicated to ensuring they are using their resources to help others.
The Chamber’s Marketing team reached out to Josh Sorkin, Vice President and Service Line Director for SAIC, about an amazing service they are offering to our region’s health organizations and the work that goes into creating such a valuable collaboration.
Tell us a little bit about the product you are offering to the medical community during this time.
As a technology integrator, SAIC purchased an industrial-sized 3D printer a few years ago. We use this machine for our customer projects, primarily in the DOD. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have shifted from printing prototype parts for customer projects to printing face shield visors for local hospitals. We were incredibly concerned for our community when we learned that there was a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, to protect medical staff fighting at the frontlines. This is our contribution and we hope that this helps our neighbors, friends and family as they combat this virus.
Can you describe the product you and your team are creating?
The face shields we are providing are essentially three parts:
- A reusable (after sanitizing) UV-stable thermoplastic visor that SAIC 3D printed in our Charleston facility
- A 9-inch Lexan clear plastic shield that we sourced from a local Charleston small business
- A rubber band
In addition to SAIC’s extensive supply chain and enterprise investment in additive manufacturing, or more commonly known as 3D printing, we leveraged our employees’ ingenuity, resourcefulness and altruism to fill this critical gap for organizations in need within the community.
In one week, we produced more than 200 visors, which can be sanitized using CDC-approved methods. The visor is designed such that the Lexan shield can be removed and replaced easily on the front lines without having to worry about sanitizing the most exposed part of the face shield unit. We’re procuring as many of the Lexan plastic shields as possible to allow our medical heroes to get as many uses as possible out of these face shields.
What medical organizations are currently planning to use this product in our region?
We’re targeting weekly deliveries of face shields and replacement Lexan to three major local medical facilities: The Medical University of South Carolina, Roper St. Francis Healthcare and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. Additionally, as word spreads about these visors, we have provided additional prototype face shields to others, including:
- Medical staffing companies such as HCA and TeamHealth
- Specialty medical providers like Elms Digestive Center
- First responders like the Charleston Police
We have also provided a few to family members of SAIC employees that are in medical environments fighting this dangerous pandemic. Some organizations have opted to pick up the visors from our SAIC office in North Charleston, but I, along with my family, personally deliver and provide a ‘thank you’ to the community. For me, this teaches my children about community and honoring our local heroes in Charleston.
How has the Charleston Metro Chamber helped to facilitate this partnership?
SAIC has had a longstanding relationship with the Charleston Metro Chamber that spans more than a decade. As part of that relationship, I am a board and executive committee member of the Chamber, so when this idea came to us, my first instinct was to reach out to the Chamber to figure out how to get these in the hands of those who need it immediately. I was confident that the Chamber would connect us with the appropriate leaders in the medical community as soon as possible resulting in an immediate positive impact.
Why do you feel it is critical for businesses to be supporting other businesses during this time?
As a nation, we are all being asked to do our part to help each other during this pandemic. Whether we are staying home, social distancing or at the frontlines, we are all in this together. This crisis affects our economy, our healthcare system, the communities in which we live and our general American way of life. As a government services provider, we are continuing to support our customers during this time, but we also recognize that we, like many other businesses, have resources that can be redirected to assist those who are at the frontlines responding to the changing needs of this crisis.
What advice would you give to businesses that are able to offer services that are in need right now?
I am always amazed by our nation’s resilience and adaptability. There are many who want to do what they can to support the country during this difficult time, including my colleagues.
My advice to other businesses is to empower your employees to think creatively and use their ingenuity to help. But also as company leaders, we must provide support to them and make available whatever resources they need to enable innovative solutions. If it weren’t for empowering and resourcing the creative minds of our employees like Bryson Cook, our 3D Engineering Lab Manager, and Marlene Urena, our Office Manager, we would not be providing this service to our local community in such a time of need.
I am incredibly proud to work for an organization who has supported us with these efforts and has supported my colleagues around the country who are also helping those in need. We are all in this together and we rely on each other to make it through these tough times.
The Charleston Metro Chamber staff are extremely grateful for member companies, like SAIC, that are working together to help our region through this difficult time. Check out our COVID-19 Resources page to learn more about what our members are up to and how you can help.