For Marena, an Atlanta-area manufacturer of medical-grade post-surgical compression garments primarily for patients recovering from elective surgical procedures, the slowdown has prompted a major operational pivot. Starting this week, the company is repurposing the majority of its production capacity to address shortages of surgical face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve essentially shifted our entire company to a new product line overnight,” said Dale Clendon, president and CEO, Marena. “We saw an opportunity to help address the significant shortages of surgical masks and other front-line medical supplies, and we moved quickly.”
Marena quickly designed and prototyped a reusable/washable face mask made from the same patented fabric used to produce its line of post surgical compression of high-compression bras, bodysuits, sleeves, vests and more. The fabric, which features Silvadur™ antibacterial protection, includes LYCRA® fiber for optimal stretch, comfort and fit properties. Marena is one of many customers of The LYCRA Company using LYCRA® fiber to produce masks and other critically needed medical supplies.
Linda Burhance, VP of Product Development, sketched out a design that met all required specifications and partnered with her team to determine how the masks could be sewn quickly and efficiently at Marena’s Lawrenceville, Ga. production facility. Then, the CMO, Colin Marafko, and VP of Global Sales, Charles Thaxton, mapped out the supply chain and distribution network and created marketing materials. The entire process took less than a week.
The masks help protect the face, nose and mouth against respiratory droplets, germ particles and splashes. The one-size-fits-all devices can be worn over N95 respirators or on their own, with comfortable ear straps for a secure fit.
“Many personal protective devices (PPDs) can cause some facial bruising or irritation,” Burhance added. “These masks are breathable and soft against the skin.”
They also can be washed multiple times, helping hospitals and clinics cut both cost and waste.
“Nurses and other front-line healthcare workers are putting on a new surgical mask each time they see a patient, then throwing them away – going through dozens per day,” Clendon said. “The masks will be helpful for clinicians in this unprecedented time.”
Marena is producing tens of thousands of masks each week. So far, the company has gotten orders from distributors in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Australia, with many others interested.
“We see this as the right thing to do,” Clendon said.
LYCRA® fiber is a trademark of The LYCRA Company.