NEW ORLEANS – One local doctor’s concern for those combating COVID-19 on the front lines inspired him to do something to help.
Dr Robert Laughlin is the Chairman of LSU Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at the LSU School Of Dentistry. He was an LSU chief oral surgery resident at Charity Hospital during Hurricane Katrina.
Laughlin said he and the other residents from his department had to take charge during the crisis. Fifteen years after the storm, Laughlin and his residents have answered the call to work in New Orleans hospital ICUs to care for coronavirus patients.
“We were able to actually collaborate with Dr. Karen Bruggers the head of prosthodontics and the central lab here at the dental school and came up with items that could be used in a situation such as we have now with a limited amount of PPE,” he said.
And that got the school making prototype masks printed with the same printer that makes dentures, splints and other surgical items. The masks can be cleaned and reused. An in-line anesthesia filter is attached to the mask and can last all day and costs only pennies. The team is also printing visor frames for face shields.
“It’s just an incredible feeling when two, three, four, departments are able to come together and design things and design things that actually can make a difference and we are making a difference here in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.
Laughlin says full production of the “fit tested” masks could begin as early as the beginning of next month. The mask will go to the residents and those who need them.