Ben Taub Hospital gets shipment of 50,000 masks from Houston start-up

Local hospitals are looking to new, unconventional partners to ensure they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment or PPE.

On Friday, Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital got a large shipment of masks from a Houston start-up.

"Our team has been working tirelessly for the last two weeks and we were able to get the first batch here today,” said Dr. Smriti Zanevald of Lazarus 3D, a 3D printing company she founded with her husband, Jacque.

They're the first 50,000 procedure masks of more than a million the couple hopes to deliver to Harris Health Ben Taub hospital in the coming weeks.

Normally, Lazarus 3D makes replicas of patients’ organs for doctors to prepare for surgery. However, when their clients calling them saying they urgently need PPE, they quickly changed their operation.

“Immediately, we dropped everything. My company and I personally borrowed $500,000 so that we could, as quickly as possible, get up production and shipping,” Jacque explained.

A spokesperson for Harris Health says right now they have "adequate inventory" of PPE, but they're actively looking for every possible avenue to keep their supply up.

He says the 50,000 procedure masks are about a week's worth of supply. Their biggest need is extra-small 95 masks and faces shields.

The Zanevelds say they're working on an N95 prototype, and they have already have 120,000 face shields on the way.

Harris Health says they are also working on sterilizing masks for reuse.

The University of Houston confirms there is an agreement is in place between Harris Health and the university's college of architecture to make 500 face shields in the coming weeks.