DIY Pandemic Supply
Oct 15, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened Cedars-Sinai’s access to critical supplies, the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator quickly improvised a solution: Do it ourselves. Leaders from the technology incubator mobilized staff and supplies from across the medical center to manufacture protective gear and hand sanitizer, in case of a supply chain shortage.
While non-emergency physician appointments were postponed, medical assistants from the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center pivoted to production efforts, assembling more than 1,000 face shields from laminator plastic, foam and stretchy bandages from Blood Donor Services. They crafted 300 powered, air-purifying respirator shields—protective gear used by clinicians in COVID-19 areas—from donated clear plastic.
HAND SANITIZER MANUFACTURE
Investigators whose work was postponed during stay-at-home orders volunteered to manufacture hand sanitizer in vacant lab spaces. Veronica Garcia, PhD—a postdoctoral scientist who studies electrophysiology at the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute—led a team in making 120 liters (about 30 gallons) of hand sanitizer.
Garcia, as well as colleagues at the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center, followed a “recipe” in an 11-page Food and Drug Administration guideline document. They tracked down excess sources of ethanol and isopropyl alcohol typically used to disinfect lab equipment. They measured and mixed two solutions—either ethanol or alcohol with glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and water—using a bioreactor, a 5-liter glass mixing machine ordinarily used to grow cells.
With each batch, they carefully tested and revised the formulation to ensure safe and effective concentration of alcohol—enough to kill pathogens but not irritate skin.
“We’re not chemists and we don’t make solutions like this normally, but we’re all meticulous, with strong attention to detail and good hands,” Garcia says. “It’s been different learning to follow such detailed protocol—this is next-level detail. But I appreciate it and want nothing less for patients and staff relying on good, efficient product.”