Public Health

AMA trustee, Bobby Mukkamala, MD, helps his community with PPE


Physicians and other health care workers in the COVID-19 hotspot of Flint, Michigan quickly found themselves with limited supplies of PPE.



AMA Board of Trustees Secretary and otolaryngologist Bobby Mukkamala MD, and his son are stepping up to fill in the gap and deliver critical PPE with the help of 3D printing technology.

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Dr. Mukkamala: My name is Dr. Bobby Mukkamala. I'm an otolaryngologist in Flint, Michigan.

Flint is about an hour north of Detroit. It's definitely been one of the hotspots, and that's been known now for the better part of the month. We were not sheltered from COVID-19 like a lot of places in the country were, and because of that, we've been in the thick of it for a while.

Very much like the other hotspots in the country, in trying to take care of patients with COVID-19, all of the resources that were available, those limited resources of N95 masks and face shields, were dedicated to the inpatient care. But what that left for the rest of the community is that there just wasn't enough to go around. And hence sort of the development of alternative sources of protective equipment, of PPE, like the stuff that we're working on.

My sophomore-in-college son was online one day and happened to come across a site called Hack the Pandemic, and he said, "Dad, look it, these guys are printing 3D-printed masks." We started doing that. We had a couple of 3D printers at home and started printing out masks that we downloaded from the internet. And once word got out that we were printing masks that were more protective than just the simple paper surgical masks, then everybody and their brother sort of found us to help supply them, from nursing homes to long-term care facilities to outpatient clinics, to fill that gap.

You know, this is a community of makers. Flint, Michigan was the birthplace of General Motors. And so we have a makerspace here called Factory Two, and so I enlisted their help to continue to make the masks and distribute the masks from their facilities. So now there's an online order form available, and pick-up opportunities every day for people that need that. The makers were here, the space was here, and so engaging the makerspace to make PPE was just one more step on a road that we were already on.