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While Alberta was able to continue supplying personal protective equipment to health-care workers — though the quality of some supplies from new international manufacturers was criticized by front-line workers — Shandro said it’s an important step to produce high-quality masks locally.
As the province prepared for the worst, the Bits and Pieces program was launched for concerned citizens and others to donate PPE for AHS to distribute to hospitals, continuing-care homes and other front-line services. One of the companies that answered the call was Orpyx, Shandro said.
The masks have undergone “rigorous” testing, according to the health minister, and they have been approved by test groups of front-line workers. They are meant to supplement the existing supply from international vendors.
“COVID-19 remains a very real threat in our province, as well as our country, but we continue, here in Alberta, to rise to the challenge,” said Shandro.
AHS has become the sole provider of PPE to many groups and organizations across the province, according to Nicholas Thain, senior operating officer for the AHS Calgary zone.
Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said many wouldn’t have even thought of personal protective equipment as a business opportunity in the province before the pandemic.
“Initiatives like this are so important for us to have stable supply chains, and continue to be a leader in the country when it comes to innovating, finding new opportunities and how we can be at the forefront of caring for each other,” he said.
The collaboration needed to adapt during this trying time is allowing more space for innovation, said Dr. Breanne Everett, CEO of Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc.
“It’s produced this growing group of Albertans that are able to contribute in a very meaningful way toward addressing and ultimately defeating this global pandemic,” said Everett.