Joel Koops is a friend and fellow parishoner, and I thought this would be a good story to share in these strange times. Its about making a difference with whatever you have in front of you. This story ran in The Christian Courier on April 6th here.
In the second week of March, Joel Koops, Steve Bosman and Dave Caputo gathered round a strategy table, exchanging information on COVID and wondering how to keep their workers employed. Then they asked each other: “What can we do to help?”
The three men own Trusscore, a material science company that manufactures building products such as wall and ceiling panels as well as pipes. During their discussion they recalled how they had responded when the swine flu had hit in 2009: they had manufactured dividers to contain the virus from spreading from one animal to the next. Bosman asked: “Can we do a similar divider for COVID patients?”
This meeting took place only three weeks prior to my writing. After that, they kicked into high gear, developing prototypes and donating them to hospitals for testing. They are not just ordinary dividers: they report that “TempWall is optionally coated with Microban Aegis Microbe Shield, the antimicrobial surface treatment that molecularly bonds to the surface, making it inhospitable to germs. Aegis has demonstrated a 99.99 percent reduction of a broad range of bacteria, molds, yeast and fungi on treated surfaces.”
This is certainly what hospitals are looking for. With smooth, durable “impact-resistant” surfaces, made out of recycled plastic, these dividers are much easier to wipe down than curtains. Fences may make good neighbours, but these walls could save neighbours. Boundaries can be as good as bridges, used in the right way.
Steve Bosman is co-owner of Trusscore. He builds good walls.
Shout-out from Trudeau
One more critical step was necessary before they could launch production lines: they had no licence to make medical equipment. They needed a “Class 1 Medical Device Establishment Licence” from Health Canada in Ottawa. So they filled out a rather onerous application form and quite miraculously (for a large government bureaucracy), got the licence 36 hours later. Normally such administration takes an average of 120 days.
Now they are running 400 dividers off the line, 24/7 as the orders come in, from their re-vamped production facility in Palmerston, Ontario. As governments in Canada and the U.S. set up new temporary centres to meet increasing demands for medical treatment, orders escalate.
It was a happy surprise when the Prime Minister’s Office called to ask a few questions about their work, and the next day, March 31, Justin Trudeau gave a shout out to their company during his daily briefing. He concluded by saying that Trusscore’s team “showed what Canadians do in difficult times. We don’t back down from a challenge. We roll up our sleeves and we get to work.”
Koops, who attends New Life Christian Reformed Church, said, “The phone is ringing off the hook. Everyone can work now, and we even hired a few others who needed work. Providentially, we just hired Ian Kalverda a month ago to help with sales, and he’s hit the ground running.”
For patients with or without COVID, these dividers protect, and in the big picture, can help flatten the curve. “These temporary walls are a great piece of the solution to that problem,” Dr. Jay Green, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital, told Communitech News via email on March 29. He said people were afraid to come to the hospital. “It is critical that we offer them a safe place to get the emergency care they need without the worry of catching this infection in our waiting room.”