A local doctor is planning to make Sarnia a Canadian manufacturing centre for personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Dr. Khalid Al-Saadon is preparing to open a facility that will create jobs and make Canada less reliant on importing medical-grade PPE on the global market, he said.
He has already invested hundreds of thousands dollar in manufacturing equipment capable of producing one million medical masks a day, he told The Journal.
“I hope this is the message that everybody will learn (from the pandemic), that we have to go back to being a country that manufactures,” said Al-Saadon.
“I want to create jobs in Sarnia.”
Al-Saadon is a cardiologist at Bluewater Health and runs the Sarnia Anti-Aging Clinic on Front Street.
The idea, he said, arose during the early days of the pandemic when PPE was in short supply.
Bluewater Health and other hospitals scrambled to source masks with COVID-19 surging, and some staff were forced to ration one mask for an entire shift.
He researched and found mask-making equipment in China, though it requires expertise to assemble.
Soon he connected with Burlington-based engineer Dr. Khalid Eid, who had the know-how to build and service the equipment.
Eid had already set up his own mask-making operation in the Hamilton area. It produces 10 million masks a week and services central Ontario.
Dr. Al-Saadon partnered with Eid and has ordered another of the $300,000 mask-making machines, he said.
The company is called Omedical Corporation, short for Ontario Medical Corp. It has sourced Health Canada-approved, Canadian-made polypropylene medical fabrics and is currently looking for industrial space in Sarnia.
Once set up, the machines will produce Level 1, 2 and 3 masks for adults or children. Level-3 is appropriate for medical settings and the others good for everyday use, he explained.
Al-Saadon said a box of 50 Level-3 masks cost about $15 when purchased from a distributor. That jumped to $50 during the worst shortages last year.
He expects he can provide a box of 50 masks to customers for $7, and for an additional fee print logos or images on them.
The deep discount is possible because products made locally aren’t saddled with import and distribution fees, he said.
“It’s time to not depend on the outside products and time to go back to ‘Made in Canada’ products,” said Al-Saadon, noting even Canada’s international allies can’t be relied upon when contending with their own crises.
“We want to prove that Canadians can depend on Canadians. We want to increase manufacturing.”
The masks currently produced at the Hamilton facility can be ordered at https://www.facebook.com/omedical.ca/