NewsGreat Falls News


Great Falls physician improvises face shield for added protection during COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 3:18 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 17:18:05-04

Kevin McCafferty, an emergency medicine physician at Great Falls Clinic, says that the clinic has been working hard to preserve and acquire more personal protective equipment. But at a time when they were low, he came up with an idea for a makeshift face shield.

The idea came from McCafferty’s lunch. As he finished up with a container for spinach, he thought it looked like a great idea for a face shield to go over his N95 mask for added protection. His video on Facebook has garnered more than 13,000 views and shared more than 300 times in the past few days. He said he hopes it gets to some of the larger affected areas that may no longer have face shields available to them.

McCafferty also says that since the Great Falls clinic has been working to stay ahead of the curve, they are prepared to see a rise in COVID-19 cases.

McCafferty says, “For the time being, we have enough personal protective equipment to meet our immediate needs.”

The Great Falls Clinic recently begun accepting donations of masks as long as they meet specific requirements; click here for details . If you would like to help, please click here for specific instructions and video tutorials at the Great Falls Clinic website, or click here for a PDF version .

Catherine Mertz, a Great Falls photographer who has a compromised immune system, has been self-quarantined for more than a week now, and decided to make these as a project for herself, and her family.

“It was more of a family necessity and it was fun to make,” said Mertz.

Mertz says she decided to make these to protect herself as much as possible, without taking away the personal protective equipment that doctors and nurses use every day.

She also wanted something their family could do together since they have been distancing themselves, and there is still no indication of how the long the situation will continue.

Mertz said, “I think it’s really important to make sure that if we are self-quarantining, and in the end if we end up being told that we’re having to stay in place order that we have something creative to do, and this is one of those creative things that can help us stay a little bit more sane.”

McCafferty also believes that if social distancing and restrictions continue, hopefully Montana can avoid being hit as hard as others since we had such a large head start. “We have a chance to make it so that we are way better off than the rest of the country,” says McCafferty. He added, “What we really need are N95’s (masks) as well. Unfortunately, none of us can make an N95 mask that is as affective, and that shortage is a major concern.”

McCafferty also wanted to make sure that Great Falls knows if you have any concern that you might have symptoms of COVID 19 that you are contacting one of the hotlines. He asks that you do not go to the emergency department as the clinics that have been set up to handle symptoms of COVID-19 have a majority of the equipment necessary to protect against it.

If you believe you may have symptoms of COVID-19 please call one of the numbers listed below, before going in to any facility.

BENEFIS: 455-2500
ALLUVION: 454-6973

As of Wednesday morning (March 25), there are 53 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, with 19 of them reported in Gallatin County.

The number is an increase of two from Tuesday evening. The new cases are in Madison County and Butte-Silver Bow County. Here is the total by county: Gallatin 19; Yellowstone 8; Missoula 6; Flathead 4; Butte-Silver Bow 4; Cascade 3; Lewis & Clark 3; Madison 2; Ravalli 1; Broadwater 1; Roosevelt 1; Jefferson 1.

Governor Steve Bullock hosted a news conference on Tuesday afternoon to give an update on Montana's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus. Bullock said that his school closure order, which was set to expire Friday, will be extended to April 10. His order to close all non-essential businesses, including bars, casinos, and gyms, was also extended to April 10. Restaurants remain prohibited from allowing people to eat in their dining rooms, but can continue to provide take-out, curb-side, and delivery service ( see here ). Click here for more details about the restrictions .

There have not been any deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19 at this point. Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site .