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New project hopes to connect Idahoans to needed PPE

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COVID-19 Idaho

A new site recently popped up to help smaller Idaho hospitals and first responders snag needed personal protective equipment.

Idaho PPE Exchange hopes to get PPE to people who need it – particularly in our rural state.

“Think of it as a Craigslist-style marketplace especially tailored to find PPE for Idaho,” one of the site’s creators John Hale said. “Rural areas of the country feel like they are the end of supply chain for PPE.”

[Boise State, dozens of Idahoans work together to 3D print face shields for local hospitals]

Hale, a businessman and former chair of the Capital City Development Corp board, helped get the site off the ground.

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“We have to solve this for ourselves,” he said. “We need to improve access, shorten the supply chain and lower the price.”

The site already has dozens of listings. One, from a Mountain Home towing company, shows a bit of innovation.

In The Ditch Towing Products started 3D printing face shield visors in its shop in Mountain Home. It added additional parts in aluminum and neoprene to finish the visor.

“We tried to design a very comfortable face shield that could be worn all day long,” In The Ditch President Chuck Ceccarelli said in a YouTube video. “We did this with input from doctors and nurses so they could bend their heads to do a task and not block the face shield.”

Some of the products are available to qualified organizations free, while others are listed for sale. Hale said the goal is to keep costs down.

“Acquiring scarce PPE… is our goal, rather than trying national retailers with a 30 day lead time and crazy bad pricing,” he said. “We ask that local suppliers give first priority to Idaho and
keep the price within reason. It’s honor-based, with no legal obligation, but the commitment to fairness so far has been incredible.”

Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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