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New Era, tech firms and a milkman are making a difference

New Era, tech firms and a milkman are making a difference

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Western New Yorkers are doing more than sheltering in place during the Covid-19 crisis. Companies and individuals here are finding ways to make a difference in the lives of others.

New Era Cap Co., the Buffalo-based headwear and apparel company, donated about 10,000 medical-grade masks, giving half to Erie County Medical Center and the other half to Oishei Children’s Hospital.

New Era, which has 19 offices around the world, used its Chinese supply chain to find the KN95 masks, which are designed to meet Chinese government specifications. The KN95 masks were approved earlier this month by the Food and Drug Administration as an alternative to N95 masks, which are made to U.S. standards.

ECMC has been using about 700 N95-style masks per day, according to hospital CEO Tom Quatroche Jr. New Era’s donations are much appreciated.

Rapid Medical Parts, a brand new company, has made quite a first impression. The startup has won a preliminary U.S. Defense Department contract to produce a prototype that turns common sleep apnea devices into emergency ventilators.

Best of all, they would cost around $5,000, a fraction of the cost of traditional ventilators.

“We went from idea to company to design to patent to DOD contract in 12 days,” company founder James A. Regenor told News reporter Jonathan Epstein.

Regenor, a former Air Force colonel and Moog executive, will begin work with his partners on building a prototype.

Thinking Robot Studios is thinking big. At a time when other businesses have been forced to contract during the pandemic pause in the local economy, the startup technology company is expanding.

CEO Greg Gellman told The News that his company is widening the product line it will make at the manufacturing facility it plans to build on Elk Street. Thinking Robot is moving from Nova Scotia to Buffalo, where it had planned to use 3D imaging technology to make artificial bone implants.

Gellman now is planning to add a retail service, initially focusing on MRI and CT scans for cardiology, orthopedics and sports rehabilitation patients in the Buffalo area who need surgery.

The company expects to create more than 270 jobs at its Buffalo site. Let’s hope our visitors from the north can prosper here.

The charitable organization started by the founder of the Buffalo Bills is a gift that keeps on giving. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s donation last week of $500,000 to support front-line caregivers in hospitals here brings its total support of emergency responses related to coronavirus to $2.75 million, all in the last four weeks.

“Caregivers on the front lines of COVID-19 put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others and work tirelessly, day in and day out,” David Egner, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a news release.

Good old Mr. Wilson would be proud.

Let’s raise a glass to Bradley Hellert, the 64-year-old owner of Hillside Dairy, who was the last provider of home delivery for milk in Erie County when he retired in 2018. Hellert is back by popular demand, reviving his home delivery business on Friday.

Customers wishing to honor social distancing by staying home have been asking Hellert to hit the road again and make home deliveries. The veteran dairyman is an example of society’s cream rising to the top.

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