Paul’s Glass Co. in Turlock is well-versed in handling all of the community’s window needs, but recently the company was called upon to help fight COVID-19.

Emanuel Medical Center reached out to Patrick Jensen of Paul’s Glass Co. to order plexiglas. When he asked what the product would be used for, hospital personnel described the box-shaped protective covers they were trying to make. Similar devices are currently being used by healthcare workers throughout the world in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, they explained, and could be vital to protecting physicians at the hospital from the incredibly infectious disease.

Jensen knew what a complicated project it would be and offered his help.

“I know what goes into building boxes with plexiglas, and it’s a big ol’ pain in the butt,” Jensen said. “They shot us some pictures with the dimensions and we just built them cold turkey.”

Prior to approaching Paul’s Glass Co., Cesar Aliaga, Chad Burdick, Carlos Urena and Moana Afamasaga of the plant operations team at EMC worked closely with two of the hospital’s physicians on the project: Dr. Phillip Cusano, an anesthesiologist, and Dr. Edward Cho, an emergency medicine specialist. The boxes are used to cover a COVID-19 patient during the intubation process, should they need to be hooked up to a ventilator, and protect physicians against droplet and airborne exposure during the pandemic.

Jensen helped EMC identify the correct plexiglas to use for the project — a polycarbonate material similar to windshields on airplanes, race cars and golf carts. It’s extra durable and doesn’t scratch easily, he said, making it the perfect option for what could soon become a crowded hospital.

“Paul’s Glass Co. helped our team bring this to life and responded very quickly to our request,” EMC CEO Lani Dickinson said. “We are so grateful for community support during times like these.”

Paul’s Glass Co. has crafted several boxes for EMC and is now making them in different sizes for patients of all ages and shapes. With a team of four working on the project, it took about an hour to make each box. Since plexiglas is so difficult to work with, Jensen said his business typically turns down those who ask for boxes made from the product. But, he was more than happy to help during a crisis like this.

“It’s just really interesting, you never know what someone is going to ask you to make. I went from at 3 o’clock that day never making an acrylic box for anyone, then three and a half hours later I had three of them delivered,” Jensen said. “My guys who stayed and helped me make them said it just feels good…we wouldn’t have done it any other way. It was an automatic, ‘Of course we’ll stay two hours late and help you with this.’”

Paul’s Glass Co. is considered construction and, therefore, an essential business. Jensen sent most of his staff home when the “stay at home” directive began and also closed his showroom, but his glass team has remained busy with emergency break-in repairs for storefront windows, and now, intubation boxes.

Other businesses have reached out to Paul’s Glass Co. as well, like dentists and grocery stores looking for protective barriers for their employees and even other hospitals interested in boxes of their own.

“It’s kind of a crazy turn of events,” Jensen said.

The turn of events is nationwide, with even some of the country’s largest corporations like Tesla and General Motors stepping up to help provide ventilators, protective equipment for healthcare workers and even hand sanitizer. Jensen couldn’t be happier to help, he said.

“This is something in the room that’s saving lives, and I think if you look around anybody and everyone who can chip in is chipping in.”