March 26, 2020

Senators Anwar, Haskell Cheer East Hartford Packaging Group for Manufacturing, Donating Face Shields to Protect Health Care Workers

EAST HARTFORD – After making a public call this week for businesses to find ways to support local health care workers through donating any personal protective equipment available to them, State Senators Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) and Will Haskell (D-Westport) are cheering an East Hartford packaging group for taking extreme steps to protect workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardent Display Group of East Hartford, in less than a week, has designed and begun manufacturing of plastic face shields and plans to donate 10,000 to local hospitals and care facilities. Ardent’s companies produce store displays and fixtures, digital signage and food packaging; the company can design, engineer, tool and manufacture all in house.

“I was horrified to see an online post over the weekend from Dr. Anwar, our State Senator and a pulmonologist, showing a physician using a plastic bag as a shield over his face,” said Donald Budnick, President and CEO of Ardent. Budnick was inspired by Sen. Anwar’s challenge to entrepreneurs to find ways to fight shortages of critical PPEs, or personal protection equipment, in the medical community.

Budnick, his son Justin and members of the Ardent team who shared concerns about PPE shortages discussed the matter, and after Ardent team member Chris Meyer suggested the company could make face shields themselves, staff began designing ways they could create PPEs in-house. After material sourcing on Monday, creating prototypes Tuesday and reviewing details with doctors Wednesday, production on the PPE equipment begins today.

Budnick hopes to manufacture 32,000 face shields daily. The first 10,000 face shields will be donated to local hospitals. After those donations, future face shields will be produced and sold at cost until material supplies run out or the COVID-19 outbreak passes.

“The incredible innovation and selfless dedication to the local community Ardent is showing through these donations shows that we can all make a difference during these difficult times,” said Sen. Anwar. “As a medical doctor myself, I know firsthand the value of PPEs and the potential harm PPE product shortages can cause. I am thankful to Donald, Justin, Chris and all of the members of the Ardent team for working to help save lives and hope other companies can follow suit.”

“Connecticut is rising to the challenge of COVID-1,” said Sen. Haskell. “I am so proud of Ardent and its leaders for taking these brave and selfless steps to assist local health care workers, who need protection in these most important days of the outbreak. We need healthy doctors and health care professionals to combat COVID. These shields will help keep them safe. Ardent is setting an example that we should all be proud of.”

Companies are responding to PPE shortages statewide. In addition to Ardent’s manufacturing of face shields, East Hartford’s NEFCO Corporation donated thousands of N95 respirators to local hospitals this week. Governor Ned Lamont announced Monday that Gil’s Drywall of Plainville and PW Power Systems of Glastonbury have also donated N95 respirators to hospitals.

Businesses with supplies available for donation should contact the Department of Public Health to see the best ways to make such donations. The Department of Public Health has created an online form for members of the public, businesses and philanthropic organizations interested in making these donations at The state is partnering with nonprofit United Way 2-1-1 of Connecticut to collect information and supplies.