Local family helping healthcare workers fighting COVID-19


Matthew Cole (right) made ear saver straps with his 3D printer for workers at two hospitals in Philadelphia.

TOWAMENCIN- Healthcare workers are one of the many national heroes in this country who risk their lives every day to fight COVID-19. They are working to flatten the curve every day, and it may seem like there are limited ways to help give back. Really there are many ways to help healthcare workers and one local family decided to fix a problem many of them have after long shifts. 

The Cole family has made and donated ear saver strap holders for hospital workers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and to Penn Presbyterian Trauma Center in Philadelphia. The idea all started with an email that was sent to Michele Cole, who has two sons in NPSD.

“The process started April 5th when a prior North Penn graduate, Remi Bulanhagui, read an article about a boy scout in Canada who was making ear savers for local healthcare workers with a 3D printer. Remi forwarded the article to me. I showed Matthew and asked if his home  3D printer could make this and he said absolutely,” said Michele Cole.

Michele Cole worked as an emergency room RN for 20 years at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She reached out to her former coworkers she is still in contact with to see if these ear savers could help. 

The first person I contacted was Dr. Iris Reyes, a current Attending in the Emergency Department at HUP.  She said by the end of the day the doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff ears are so sore and are suffering blisters and skin break down. The ear saver straps would be a welcomed gift.” explained Michele Cole. 

Hospital workers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania showing off their ear savers donated by the Cole family.

Michele’s son, Matthew, a 7th grader at Penndale Middle School, made around 20 straps in less than a week. His 3D printer could make 6 straps in 5 hours. Matthew set his alarm clock throughout the night to start the process again. Eventually, Dr. Reyes was able to pick up the ear saver straps through a socially distant mailbox pickup. Both hospitals received around 20 ear savers to help during long shifts all thanks to Matthew’s work.

“I am glad I had the resource to be able to give some comfort to the Doctors and Nurses,” added Matthew Cole.”

Unfortunately, purchasing more material for the ear saver straps at a reasonable price is difficult and the process had to be put on hold. Matthew’s older brother Russel is a sophomore at North Penn High School and emailed administration to see if their 3D printers could be used. Engineering teacher, Curt Reichwein was able to make 60 personal protective equipment parts (PPE) to send to hospitals in need. 

“The nurses and doctors are always there for us when we need help so we should help them when they need it,” said Russel Cole. 

Thanks to the Cole family, nurses and doctors in the area will have one less problem as they work hard to help fight COVID-19. They are one example of why the North Penn School District is proud of its community for coming together and finding ways to give back.