Skagit Valley is an idyllic region in northwestern Washington, renowned for its tulip fields and berry farms in the south and the breathtaking peaks of the

Cascade Mountains in the north. It’s also home to dozens of close-knit communities where neighbors take care of one another. That compassion has been on display during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 400 Skagit County residents testing positive for the coronavirus as of mid-May.

Janicki Industries, a fourth-generation, family-owned business in Sedro-Woolley, Wash., has a long history of giving back to the community. Local children play baseball and softball at the Janicki Fields, and the company supports groups such as the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts and United Way. So when Janicki Industries began getting requests to make equipment for the fight against COVID-19, it was a “natural fit” to lend a hand, says Andy Bridge, vice president of industrial and emergent markets for Janicki. The company designed and fabricated portable isolation treatment booths and intubation boxes for two local hospitals. “We are good at designing, engineering and manufacturing big components, like airplane wings and wind blades,” says Bridge. “So when hospitals wanted big boxes, we thought, ‘OK, this is in our wheelhouse.’”

Janicki Industries is one of many companies in the composites industry that has stepped up during the global pandemic to provide devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and more. “Manufacturers are resilient and agile,” says Lori Miles-Olund, president of Miles Fiberglass & Composites, which has made and donated face shields. “They can quickly answer the call for what is needed, and we have seen this during the pandemic.”

Keeping Caregivers Safe

One of the calls Janicki received was from Connie Davis, MD, chief medical officer of Skagit Regional Health Clinic, who sought a better way to isolate COVID-19 patients from healthcare staff during nebulizer treatments to deliver oxygen. She provided a sketch of an isolation booth to Janicki on April 9. Bridge initiated a design contest among the company’s engineering team, challenging them to submit viable designs using off-the-shelf materials within three days.

Bryan Harris, program manager, won the contest with a 4-foot-wide, 4-foot-long, 8-foot-tall booth, including a sealed door that could accommodate wheelchairs. The booth is made of clear polycarbonate so hospital staff can easily monitor patients. It features a ceiling fan with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system. The 0.3 micron HEPA system creates a slight vacuum in the booth, preventing air from escaping and potentially transmitting the coronavirus to others.