As South Carolina continues its rollout of vaccines across the state, the push for personal protective equipment looks quite different than it did a year ago.
But after frontline workers were able to get the PPE needed from foreign and regional supply chains alike, nonprofits, churches and workforce development groups remained, and continue to remain, in need, according to a news release.
Early on in the pandemic, Greenville-based medical trainer and synthetic gel manufacturing company Humimic Medical redirected some of its engineering and manufacturing lines to face shields and masks, yet didn’t have the distribution network to connect organizations in need with the product.
Still, they had the right network to find one. Humimic Medical connected with SCBio, which connected Humimic with the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership, SCBio’s partner in founding the S.C. PPE Supply Chain Portal.
“SCMEP always prides itself in being a strategic resource for companies in our state,” Chuck Spangler, president of SCMEP, said in the release. “We’re grateful we could leverage our network in collaboration with SCBio and Humimic Medical to serve organizations in need.”
SCMEP had its hand on the pulse of organizations that had been overlooked while larger companies were glutted with masks and hand sanitizer and directed thousands of face coverings from Humimic Medical to organizations ranging from the Greer Soup Kitchen and Buncome Street Trinity United Methodist Church Child Development Center in Greenville to Aiken’s Area Churches Together Serving and St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church.
“Helping the ‘little guys’ has always been part of my DNA, I guess,” Joel Edwards, CEO of Greenville’s Humimic Medical, said in the release. “We started in a garage 10 years ago and grew from there. Organizations willing to support the little guy like us along the way helped us tremendously in getting to where we are today. So having the opportunity to give back and help others who may not be first in line to receive PPE supplies just felt right.”
The initiative dovetails with Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive order in April for the Commerce Department and SCBio to encourage the reshoring of life science products made by existing and future businesses, especially since 90% of all PPE was made in China at the beginning of 2020, according to McMaster.
“We continue to live our mission of being the life sciences industry convener, and that’s more important than ever right now,” Erin Ford, interim CEO of SCBio, said in the release.