Making a Difference

Maker communities come together to produce PPE and medical-grade desk shields for hospitals.

On March 13, Meow Wolf leadership made the decision to close our offices and the House of Eternal Return.

This was a challenging decision, but we knew it would be best for the health and safety of our staff and patrons. Like most businesses and individuals, we had to quickly adjust to the “new normal.”

Immediately after New Mexico issued the stay-at-home order on March 15, we began to investigate our role in combating COVID-19 in our community. Since that time, our team has put in hundreds of hours volunteering for local non-profit organizations like the Food Depot and Make Santa Fe, and our founders and leadership have donated thousands of dollars to relief efforts. We also began assessing how our Meow Wolf team of makers could help with producing Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”). 

Danika Padilla, Sr. Dir. of Social Impact for Meow Wolf ships a box of 500 N95 masks to Navajo Nation hospitals

At the end of April, Meow Wolf delivered 12 desk shields made from medical grade polycarbonate to our local hospital, Christus St. Vincent. These are already being used to protect hospital staff on the front lines of the pandemic. This was more than 8 weeks in the making after our business was turned upside down by COVID-19. 

What many folks don’t know about PPE production is that it can be challenging for a business to make the shift quickly. We are not health care experts, nor are we a medical device manufacturing company, so we had to navigate several challenges. 

First, we reached out to our local hospital on the front lines and asked a couple of critical questions - What did they need most? How could we help them directly?

From there, we began assessing the production of two types of PPE - desk shields and face shields. Our assessment included inventory of materials we had in stock, detailed cost analysis, how many staff members it would take, and of course the legal requirements of making this equipment, all while ensuring the health and safety of our staff. 

Meow Wolf employee making desk shields.

These assessments were challenging. Not only did our team add this complex project on top of a full workload, they did so while simultaneously working hard to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on our own project timelines. 

By prioritizing safety, internal risk management, and labor & materials bandwidth, we made the decision to re-open our fabrication facility to allow staff back in to produce several prototypes for desk shields. These used design specifications provided by Christus St. Vincent Hospital and the materials and machinery we have at our production facility - desk shields turned out to be our best option. 

In the span of this time Christus St. Vincent visited our production facility three times bringing their facilities and quality control professionals to inspect our workplace, our workplace practices, and the finished products.

In total, it took 5 weeks to transition our entertainment-based project operations to manage a front line volunteer endeavor supporting the safety of our community. We are proud of the 12 desk shields that are in use at Christus St. Vincent Hospital, and are so grateful for the 12 person Meow Wolf team who came together from across our company, devoting over 150 hours to complete this project. 

There are so many organizations and groups who have stepped up to help our community during this pandemic. We are grateful for our partnerships with Make Santa Fe, who are producing cotton face masks and face shields, and Santa Fe Community College, who are distributing face masks and sewing surgical gowns. These two groups helped us tremendously, along with the guidance from Kathy Armijo, VP of Mission, at Christus St. Vincent Hospital

Make Santa Fe uses 3-D printing to help make face shields.

Additionally, Meow Wolf is donating 500 N95 masks to the Navajo Nation’s hospitals in need thanks to the pioneering efforts of Make Santa Fe. Learn more or volunteer. Donate to the Navajo Nation here.

We’re all in this together, and Meow Wolf will continue to find ways to support our communities and front line workers.