The Intuitive Foundation Response to COVID-19
Protective equipment donation highlighted support for frontline health workers.
The Intuitive Foundation’s multi-faceted response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the strengths of its leadership to harness people, materials and ideas to help fight the pandemic.
When the crisis began, the Intuitive Foundation assessed the landscape and decided to expand its mission. The Foundation has set long-term priorities around better outcomes, but this crisis prompted the addition of near-term goals to help frontline healthcare workers and their communities through coordinated response of PPE, donations and resource guidance.
Among the major milestones: mass production of much-needed face shields from Intuitive production facilities in Mexicali, Mexico; Sunnyvale, California, and in Connecticut. Efforts to make both face shields and protective masks exceeded 1 million items, which were quickly donated to facilities in the most need.
Other focus areas for the Foundation include:
- Distribution of 50,000 N95 respirator masks donated in partnership with Fosun Pharma to facilities in need.
- Commercial production of tens of thousands of cotton reusable face masks and thousands more from employee DIY volunteers.
- Donation of thousands of lab coats, boxes of wipes, gloves, shoe booties, caps and other needed gear for frontline workers Every single piece of PPE out there in our hospitals, care facilities, and communities helps keep a human interaction safer, as each country addresses subsequent waves of COVID-19 differently.
- The Intuitive Foundation worked with the county of Santa Clara and the Silicon Valley COVID-19 Aid Coalition’s local consortium of 11 hospitals to develop a set of product specifications and general guidelines for the most needed items. These specifications enable technology company supply chain experts with no medical experience to correctly source medical equipment for hospitals. Further details can be found at: VMC’s Foundation website
- The Intuitive Foundation continues to coordinate employee donations around the response effort, as well as engage with medical device leaders to explore new technologies and connect PPE to hospitals and facilities in need.
- The Intuitive Foundation has made a direct financial contribution to Santa Clara County’s response efforts, through the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG).
- In addition, Intuitive Foundation President Catherine Mohr has worked closely with the SVLG to establish a response initiative that has brought together San Francisco Bay Area businesses to source, purchase, store, and distribute needed personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical equipment. By matching suppliers and purchasers, this effort has benefitted an 11-hospital consortium in Santa Clara County as well as other facilities in need.
- The Intuitive Foundation continues to explore additional steps to help communities add PPE resources, to improve the protective qualities of masks, and to identify new technologies that can help both the health care system and our communities respond to COVID-19.
These efforts have relied heavily on in-kind volunteer efforts of engineers and others within Intuitive Surgical. Intuitive Surgical employees have provided expert assistance related to managing supply chains, identifying product specifications, manufacturing and building collaborative online tools to facilitate the response.
Response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a monumental effort from around the world. During the initial shelter in place order in March 2020, Intuitive employees went to work creating pilot programs of cotton reusable face masks and face shields. The creation of these pilot manufacturing lines allowed the teams to identify some improvement areas on PPE by creating nose pieces, adjustable ear loop cinches, and a quick turn process for PET lenses. Our vendor base was already setup with many key manufacturers that were able to quickly partner and pivot operations in creating high volume production at a low price for COVID PPE supplies.
For the face shields, an open source design was chosen (Badger Shield) and over 1 million were created on our pilot lines. We were able to co-develop die cut tooling to mass produce extremely consistent PET shields at a consistently high volume. These die-cut tools allow for minimal scrap and consistently shaped cut-out PET lenses without sharp edges.
With the pandemic still pushing forward, we would like to provide these components to other charitable 501(c)(3) entities at no cost in volume. For more information please contact us: PPE@intuitive-foundation.org
The Intuitive Foundation researched and sourced high-quality materials for face mask assembly and continues to offer resources to any group interested in creating more face masks.
Flexible and formable wire nose pieces allowed the masks to conform to a wearer’s face to minimize movement along with a quick adjustment cinch for the elastic around the ears creates a highly customizable washable face mask. Giving the elastic a quick pull, adjusts the ear loops to provide a custom size that allows the wearer a perfect fit where the elastic does not pull too hard on the years while also not being so loose as to allowing the mask to slide off the person’s face. With these 2 very simple components, a face mask can be adjusted to fit anyone’s face and be comfortable to wear for a longer duration of time without constant adjustment.
The Foundation would like to provide these components to other charitable 501(c)(3) entities at no cost in volume. For more information please contact us: PPE@intuitive-foundation.org
The Intuitive Foundation has established a special matching drive to match the donations of Intuitive Surgical employees to certain local or global organizations responding to the crisis.
Exploring Other Ways to Help
The Intuitive Foundation continues to explore additional steps to help communities add PPE resources, to improve the protective qualities of masks, and to identify new technologies that can help both the health care system and our communities respond to COVID-19.