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Nike Puts Supply Chain to Work Making Protective Gear for Oregon Hospitals

As the fashion industry works to assist the medical community in its effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Nike has transformed its apparel and footwear supply chain to provide face shields and lenses for local hospitals.

In late March, Nike said it would look into ways it could use its existing supply chains to assist in the effort to provide much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to health-care workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

After collaborating with the professionals at the nearby Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the company came up with two designs: a full-face shield and lenses for powered, air-purifying respirators (PAPR)critical equipment for providing care to infected patients.

OHSU healthcare workers then helped Nike test the designs in the field.

“Without proper facial protection, health-care workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, which could place substantial strain on the healthcare workforce in the months ahead,” Miko Enomoto, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the OHSU School of Medicine, said in a statement. “The full-face shields help protect healthcare workers’ faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 mask.”

Elements of both apparel and footwear were combined in order to produce the shields and lenses, Nike said. Collar padding that would have been used to manufacture Nike sneakers was repurposed and the clear plastic on both the face shield and the PAPR lenses was manufactured using Nike Air TPU.

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Nike then combined these elements with cords originally set aside for apparel in a “streamlined” nine-part production process.

The company’s Air Manufacturing Innovation facilities in Oregon and Missouri collaborated during the design stage and Nike said their specialization in the custom extrusion of polyurethane film and sheet made them “uniquely suited” to shift production to badly needed PPE.

Nike’s St. Charles, Mo., facility has decades of experience developing a wide range of TPU-based products, the company said, and both factories have adopted new production line procedures to keep up with government safety guidelines.

The first shipment of lenses and face-shields was donated to OHSU on April 3 and the company will continue to look for new methods of supporting the medical community. Nike will also donate its PPE to health systems near its world headquarters region in Oregon, including Kaiser Permanente, Providence, Legacy Health Systems and others.

“Nike’s generous response to the COVID-19 crisis helps to instill an added layer of confidence and support for healthcare workers, that we can safely carry out the jobs we were born to do,” Enomoto said.