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MVNU grad builds barriers against COVID-19

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — “Give me about an hour.” That is all the time it took for an MVNU alum to fabricate a clear plastic box that would protect medical staff while intubating a patient with COVID-19.

Jay Ruffner, owner of Shamrock Plastics in Mount Vernon, Ohio, was contacted by an employee at Knox Community Hospital to see if he could build a box designed by a doctor in Taiwan. He happened to be familiar with the device as his wife, a nurse at KCH, had shown it to him the day before.

Not long after the request, Ruffner was making the two-mile drive to allow KCH staff the opportunity to see how well the box worked for their needs.

The design is actually rather simple — a three-sided box with two holes in the back side to allow access to the patient. Medical professionals asked Ruffner to add another set of holes so that a nurse could assist with intubation. The end result was several boxes produced for the hospital.

“The devices Mr. Ruffner was able to manufacture provide an added layer of protection (in combination with other recommended Personal Protection Equipment) for all staff in the room during certain procedures such as intubation and bronchoscopy,” said Jeffrey Scott, KCH director of marketing and development. “Mr. Ruffner’s devices help contain secretion which may become aerosolized during these processes. So far, they have been used in our Intensive Care Unit, though they could be utilized in a few different settings, should the need arise.”

Shamrock Plastics now has contributed to the manufacturing of these devices for hospitals in Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, and several in Ohio.

The company’s response to COVID-19 needs does not stop with health care devices, they have also installed partitions in grocery stores, libraries and offices; and they have partnered with other local manufacturers to make face masks.

“Right now, everyone is doing what they are called to do,” Ruffner said. “Helping in any way they can, whether that’s cutting face masks out of different types of plastic or cutting boxes like we made — you just do what you do because the next person on that table getting intubated could be you, your mom, dad or kids. I think we all have that duty.”

Ruffner graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise sciences. He was a member of the golf team.

“MVNU is so proud of the many ways our alumni around the world are choosing to make a difference during this pandemic,” said James Smith, Vice President for University Relations for MVNU. “Mr. Ruffner and other alums are living out our motto as they seek to serve the needs of those around them, whether that is through manufacturing new protective devices, providing medical care or meeting the needs of their neighbors. Our alums continue to change the world with the love of Christ!”

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to more than 2,200 students from 34 states and 14 foreign countries.