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Local company helps hospitals

Courtesy photo Jake and Valine Kobasic, co-owners of Kobasic Creations, demonstrate how “intubation boxes” made by the business work. Kobasic Creations has been making these boxes for hospitals in the Upper Peninsula and beyond.

ESCANABA — In response to the coronavirus pandemic, local laser engraving and woodworking business Kobasic Creations has been making “intubation boxes” for hospitals in the Upper Peninsula and beyond.

According to Jake Kobasic, who co-owns the business with his wife Valine Kobasic, these Plexiglas boxes are meant to be placed over the heads of COVID-19 patients while they are being intubated. The boxes protect healthcare workers, who stick their hands through holes on one side, from particles and bodily fluids while still allowing them to see what they are doing.

“This box is an additional shield to the current PPE that they wear,” Kobasic said.

Without these boxes or similar equipment, Kobasic said some healthcare workers have had to cover COVID-19 patients with sheets and “guess at” what they are doing while performing intubations.

Kobasic said he was approached by an employee of OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group who had heard about the boxes and wondered if Kobasic Creations could make something similar.

“There’s actually a doctor in Taiwan that created the concept of it,” he said.

Twenty-eight intubation boxes had been produced at Kobasic Creations as of Friday.

“We’ve got 20 more getting ready to be cut out,” Kobasic said.

So far, Kobasic Creations has made boxes for hospitals in both the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula, Wisconsin, Texas, Arkansas, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Canada. It has been approached by many other hospitals, as well.

“When you talk to these medical personnel, it’s bad all over,” Kobasic said.

All intubation boxes made at Kobasic Creations have been provided to hospitals free of charge, and the business is not making a profit from its work on the boxes.

“We’re able to get these to them so they don’t have to worry about paying for them … and they can focus on what they need to be focusing on,” Kobasic said.

Kobasic thanked the community for its support of this initiative, noting people have been “reaching out left and right” to help. The business has established a GoFundMe page to collect donations towards the cost of making the boxes.

Handling donations through GoFundMe has provided the business with a list of donors and has helped keep the campaign organized.

“This is such a fast-paced thing right now,” Kobasic said.

It costs Kobasic Creations about $130 in materials to make a box. Kobasic said those who donate to the campaign and want boxes they helped fund to go to a specific hospital are welcome to send the business a message on its Facebook page.

For more information, including a link to the GoFundMe campaign, find “Kobasic Creations” on Facebook.

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