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Waynesboro company shifting production to make PPE for first responders

Since Saturday, Bloomaker employees have made thousands of face shields for local first...
Since Saturday, Bloomaker employees have made thousands of face shields for local first responders.(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:11 PM EDT
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Bloomaker, a hydroponically grown florist in Waynesboro, has slowed floral production. Instead, employees are now working to make face shields for local first responders.

Joep Paternostre, the local Bloomaker owner, said he wants local first responders to be well-prepared with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which has been hard to come by for many people in need of it these days.

Paternostre said they began making face masks on Saturday and have already made thousands to donate.

David Nichols, Augusta County Fire and Rescue chief, said protective gear like that which Bloomaker is making is important to slow the spread of coronavirus because of how short healthcare and emergency responders are on PPE.

Nichols said ACFR ordered masks through their regular distributor, but their order was canceled.

He said their distributor was instructed to send PPE to the federal government, who are distributing supplies to areas hit the hardest by coronavirus, like NYC.

Nichols said ACFR put an order in for 2,500 face masks, which he said would last their crew 2-3 weeks. But he said the entire region received only 16 masks total, which wouldn’t have been enough for a team in a single day.

ACFR has been asking local businesses with PPE equipment to donate to the first responders. They’ve received donations from dentist offices, contractors, and Augusta County schools.

Asher Brand, with ACFR, said he thanks Dr. Dan Lagrua, Dr. Dan Roller, Dr. Deirdre Terlip, and the VA Dental Association Foundation for donating thousands of masks to their first responders.

Healthcare professionals with a stockpile of PPE are urged to call The Central Shenandoah EMS Council at (540) 866-3676.