Ear-loop surgical masks are must-have personal protective gear for health workers, but, over a 12-hour shift, the straps can painfully rub delicate around-the-ear skin. MSI Mold Builders, which has a manufacturing plant in Greenville, stepped in to make and donate 30,000 “Ear Savers” for healthcare workers at Prisma Health after being told of the need.

“Our ability to fill the need health workers had, to provide a little additional comfort, seemed like the least we could do,” said Roger C. Klouda, president of MSI Mold Builders. The Iowa-based company, which recently invested more than $2.5 million in its Greenville facility, manufactures injection molds tailored to the plastics industry. The company worked with Prisma Health to develop the six-inch neck straps onto which face-mask ear loops can be easily – and comfortably – attached.

In addition to the Ear Savers, MSI is also fast-tracking construction on molds for purification equipment and respirators as well as other equipment to assist in the fight on COVID-19 in both its Iowa and Greenville facilities, said Klouda. It’s also donated its Ear Savers to other hospital facilities, nursing homes, EMTs and first responders nationwide.

“Prisma Health is excited to partner with local company MSI Mold Builders so that we can work together to protect our frontline healthcare providers,” said Cody Reynolds, manager for technology transfer at Prisma Health’s Health Sciences Center. “Whether it’s during these pandemic times or more day-to-day life, we want our technology leaders to know that we value their expertise and want to explore options with them about ways we can improve the health of our shared communities.”

Prisma Health launched its rapid innovation taskforce as a key resource to help develop key operational and research needs around the COVID-19 epidemic. It is comprised of leaders from Prisma Health and industry and academic partners from the Health Sciences Center. It addresses real-time problems identified by clinical and operational leaders and front-line providers and then develops innovative solutions for dynamic situations.

For more information about the Prisma Health Rapid Innovation Taskforce, visit https://www.prismahealth.org/rapidinnovation

“Greenville has an exceptional highly skilled labor force, and our plan is to continue to grow the Greenville facility,” said Klouda.

If hospitals, nursing homes or first responders are interested in the Ear Savers, they may contact MSI Mold Builders at [email protected].