FOREST CITY — Forest City-based Winnebago Industries and Mason City-based Metalcraft are among the local industries that are trying to help solve the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
Despite their suspension of manufacturing at their facilities across the nation, Winnebago Industries has started converting the company’s Stitchcraft facility in Forest City to manufacture medical masks for MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center. Winnebago delivered its first shipment of masks on Monday, with additional deliveries to continue as it fills its first production run of about 6000 masks.
Winnebago CEO Michael Happe says during the time of the shutdown, they are wanting to focus on how they can best use their resources to provide support in overall relief efforts that positively impact the local community. “We are engaged in numerous discussions in how we can help our communities and healthcare providers across the country during this difficult time. I am proud of the recent action our Winnebago Industries Foundation took to provide immediate COVID-19 directed financial donations to several organizations in the various communities we have a presence in.”
Happe says besides making medical masks, the company is also in conversations with multiple organizations in how their current products can be used or modified as helpful solutions from a mobile medical standpoint during the COVID-19 crisis. “We have a deep history, especially in our specialty vehicles business, of providing mobile medical products to various entities throughout the years.”
Governor Reynolds during her press conference on Monday recognized Winnebago, Metalcraft and several other Iowa companies for their recent efforts in trying to reduce the PPE shortage. “Metalcraft in Mason City and Wheaton Capital in Fairfield are developing prototypes, securing materials and gearing up for large-scale production. John Deere is making face shields at its various plants across the state and donating them to healthcare providers in their local communities. In Iowa City, Fab Lab is making face shields for The University of Iowa. Other companies are reassigning their industrial sewing operators to produce masks and gowns. Winnebago Industries in Forest City is producing masks for their local healthcare systems. Other companies that have contacted the state and are preparing to transition their production so that they can begin sewing masks, gowns and other PPE as soon as possible.”
The masks being produced by Winnebago will be used by clinical staff at MercyOne as they treat patients.