A manufacturing plant that produced store display fixtures before the coronavirus pandemic has retooled to produce N95 respirators that are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Paterson-based Protective Health Gear (PHG) can produce approximately 50,000 respirators a day, amounting to 1.5 million per month.
“We are thrilled to have begun production of the N95 masks at our Paterson, New Jersey headquarters,” said Brian Wolin, chief executive officer for Protective Health Gear, during a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the 255 Iowa Avenue facility on Wednesday afternoon. He was disheartened at seeing healthcare workers pleading for personal protective equipment like high-quality masks in March. “I listened and watched day in and day out about the dire need for PPE and the need to bring the manufacturing of that PPE back to the United States.”
Wolin said the firm began making masks earlier this month. His firm has secured a contract from the Veterans Affairs to supply them with masks. His firm has the capability to produce and distribute millions of masks, he said, as a deadly mix of flu and Covid-19 is expected to hit the country in the fall.
Wolin and his colleagues received accolades from mayor Andre Sayegh and congressman Bill Pascrell for making the respirators vital to battling the coronavirus pandemic in Paterson and the United States.
“As we prepare for the anticipated second wave, we will be properly prepared because of what you see here,” said Sayegh. “I want to salute them.”
Sayegh said most of the company’s several dozen workers are residents of Paterson. The firm employs 30-40 people.
“We are honored to bring jobs to Paterson and to make a product for frontline workers and first responders that is made in America,” said Wolin.
The company’s N95 mask also has features such as foam cushions on the interior to reduce the discomfort of wearing a mask for hours.
Fire chief Brian McDermott said his firefighters and medical technicians do not have to worry about faulty masks. He said they will be certain the masks produced by Protective Health Gear are high quality.
As the pandemic engulfed the world, Chinese firms were shipping defective masks to various countries, including the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March revoked U.S. authorization for masks made by more than 60 Chinese manufacturers because they were inferior and failed to protect healthcare workers.
“They decided to do something about it,” said Pascrell, speaking of the Protective Health Gear’s management. He inspected the quality of a mask and found it high quality. “This is a real mask.”
Pascrell said the N95 masks produced in Paterson will save American lives.
Protective Health Gear donated three boxes, each packed with 1,000 masks, to the Paterson school district, the police department, and the fire department.
Email: [email protected]