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Tommy Richter, KHCPL Technology and Reference Assistant, delivers ear-savers to Community Howard Regional Health.

Although the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library is temporarily closed to the public, due to COVID-19, several employees are finding ways to serve the community. One of those is Tommy Richter, Technology and Reference Assistant, who is using KHCPL’s 3D printers to make surgical mask straps, commonly called ear-savers, for healthcare workers.

The healthcare worker wearing a mask simply loops the straps to the ear-saver, which not only keeps the straps from cutting into the person’s ears – since they’re wearing them all day, every day – but also forms a tighter seal over the worker’s mouth and nose because it pulls the mask straps back to improve fit.

Richter delivered the first 80 to Community Howard Regional Health this week.

KHCPL’s 3D printer making the ear-savers.

“I feel like it’s doing my part in helping combat the virus,” Richter said. It takes about two hours to make nine ear-savers. The cost is minimal, just the expense of the plastic filament and power to operate the 3D printers. He’s taught some of KHCPL’s 3D printing classes. In addition, when patrons submit projects to be printed, Richter helps print those. “This is why we have these printers, to help patrons. So we might as well use them.”

“Community Howard Regional Health has partnered with KHCPL in a number of ways for many years, so we reached out to them first,” said Lisa Fipps, KHCPL Director of Marketing. “Once we have supplied all they need, we’ll work to make some for other healthcare workers.”

The final product: ear-savers for healthcare workers.

“Many thanks to the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library for this creative and generous donation of ‘ear-savers,’ ” said George Mast, Manager of Corporate Communications at Community Howard Regional Health. “Wearing a mask all day can be uncomfortable, and we are grateful to be able to make these available to our caregivers. All of us at Community Howard offer our sincere appreciation to the library and others that have generously stepped forward to stand beside us in this fight.”

“KHCPL has always served patrons and the community and will continue to do so even in this unprecedented time,” Fipps said. “We’re just having to be creative and resourceful. For example, we’ve become a virtual library, offering a variety of programs and tutorials on our YouTube channel. We’ve worked with vendors, such as Ancestry Library Edition and HOOPLA, to temporarily increase our digital offerings to patrons. And we couldn’t do what we’re doing if it weren’t for our employees, like Tommy, who are stepping up to the plate and using their talents from home or in new ways.”