West Island woman turns her home into a production facility for protective gear to supply medical workers

Katy Johnston in her homegrown face shield production facility.

Pointe-Claire resident, Katy Johnston, was in the process of setting up FabZone, a non-for-profit organization “Makers space” project shortly before the COVID-19 crisis erupted in Quebec. The community workshop was planned to be set up in the West Island in fall 2020. Fabzone was going to be a space where community members could perform woodwork, sewing, build electronic equipment and digital material. Johnston began acquiring equipment such as 3D printers and plastic cutters as part of her business plan and had formed a board for the organization. She was just about ready to rent a space and set up the workshop, when the project was put on pause by force of circumstances.

Having stored the equipment at her home, Johnston decided to put it to good use and began making medical face shields based on the CR3D model, a standard design used in Germany’s medical field that she found online. “I basically turned my whole home into a production farm.” she said to The Suburban laughing.

Johnston is not profiting from the project; she is only requesting coverage for the cost of the materials. The hours she spends as she ramps up production is something she decided to give freely as a contribution to help protect frontline workers. “I am very happy to be doing this; it keeps me busy while doing something useful.” Johnston told The Suburban. “I will keep on going so long as I can find the materials to produce.” she explained.

Johnston shops regularly online to search for the materials, but since stock is sometimes low, she reached out the community in hopes of purchasing materials from people that may have some on hand. Johnston says that she was pleasantly surprised by the response.

District 8 – Pointe-Claire city councilor, Brent Cowan, donated enough material to Johnston’s project for her to produce approximately 1900 units of the clear plastic part of the face shields. “I am grateful for the opportunity that Ms. Johnston has given me to contribute to her project and I am very proud of her ability to combine good entrepreneurship with good citizenship.” Cowan told The Suburban.

As word is spreading quickly amongst medical professionals, Johnston is receiving more and more requests for face shields and hopes to continue finding the materials that she needs to continue supplying frontline workers. So far, she has manufactured hundreds of face shields for multiple medical workers including a Cardiologist from the CHUM, a GP at Vichy Sante and a Doctor who works at a seniors residence.

In response to the increasing volume of requests, Johnston solicited the help of volunteers via social media. She formed a team of six volunteers, each one working from their home or workshop. Those who came forward so far are Tara Stainforth, Jennifer Tremblay, Anita Porietis-Bedard, Sharron Leggett, Charles Lavoie and her husband Chris Olive. “More volunteers are coming forward by the hour, the project is growing rapidly.” Johnston explained to The Suburban.

For more information on how to volunteer and/or to donate materials to wards the project contact: katy@fabzone.org

List of materials

Donation Request

- Ziploc Bags

-Sewing elastic 10-25mm

-PETG filament for 3D printers

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