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March 26, 2020

Brunswick company to provide ‘isolation rooms’ for health care sites

Photo / TIM GREENWAY STARC Systems plans to move into expanded space at Brunswick Landing. Pictured here are President and CEO Chris Vickers, left, and founder and Chairman Tim Hebert.

STARC Systems, a Brunswick Landing manufacturer of containment walls used in hospital expansion sites, will shift its production today to creating “isolation rooms” that can be used in health care systems to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For STARC, which has 50 employees and had already planned to move into larger space at Brunswick Landing in May, the shift qualifies the company as an “essential” business.

Its temporary modular walls serve as containment systems and have been used by major construction contractors on expansion projects at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic, as well as Maine hospitals. The containment system prevents construction dust, debris and pathogens from contaminating areas with patients and hospital employees.

The company was founded in 2012 by Lewiston native Tim Hebert, chairman of Hebert Construction. He is one of the Mainebiz Business Leaders of the Year, profiled in the most recent issue. Day-to-day operations are overseen by President and CEO Chris Vickers, a Caribou native.

Now, with today’s shift in production, STARC will “refocus all production on instant isolation solutions to dramatically increase the number of units available for healthcare facilities throughout the country, helping to protect more healthcare workers and patients and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

To combat the spread of COVID-19, the new system will create “instant negative pressure isolation anterooms and airborne infection isolation rooms,” the company said Thursday.

“For years we have relied on STARC Systems solutions to provide a safe environment for healthcare workers and patients during healthcare facility renovations,” said Brian Hamilton, director of health care and life sciences work at Consigli Construction. “Now, STARC has become critical in our response to provide hospitals with immediate patient isolation rooms to reduce the spread of coronavirus. These rooms allow overflowing healthcare systems or entirely repurposed facilities to separate patients who are sick from other patients and healthcare workers who are not.”

STARC Systems’ isolation rooms exceeds the ICRA Class IV and ASTM E-84 healthcare requirements for infection control and fire/smoke spread and its surfaces are easily disinfected.  

Next steps

To meet the demand for the isolation rooms, STARC plans to: 

  • Expand shifts with additional manufacturing and tech support employees
  • Double the existing manufacturing space
  • Work with vendors to increase and accelerate raw material buys
  • Encourage existing customers to offer any of their unused wall panels to their local health care facility for isolation.

“With the unprecedented health risks our country is facing, we knew we had to quickly repurpose and increase our resources to help reduce the spread of coronavirus,” said Vickers, STARC System’s CEO.

“Time is our biggest concern. Healthcare facilities need isolation rooms now, not two months from now. Significantly investing in our production facility will ensure we meet more demand and avoid any delays. As an ‘essential’ infrastructure company, we feel a great deal of responsibility to do all we can while maintaining the health and safety of our employees.”

To maintain social distancing at STARC, the company has eliminated travel and in-person meetings. Administrative employees are working remotely. For the manufacturing areas, the space has been redesigned to accommodate social distancing.

Tools and workstations and disinfected after each shift. Employees are required to wash their hands frequently. No visitors are allowed. 

Employees will also receive additional sick days and accelerated paid-time-off to ensure they feel comfortable staying home when feeling sick or taking care of family members.

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