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Army Depot Shifts Gears to Assist Local Health Care System

May 20, 2020 | BY Dorie Heyer, Army

Letterkenny Army Depot's upholstery shop in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, recently switched gears from its military mission to produce personal protective equipment for a local health care system.

WellSpan Health officials reached out when they learned Letterkenny's upholstery shop was making masks for the depot workforce. It didn't take long for the depot to configure its diverse capabilities and adapt procedures for the new project to create 70,000 isolation gowns for the health care organization.

Letterkenny Army Depot personnel discussing production of isolation gowns with WellSpan.
Production Process
Shawn Hind, left, with the Letterkenny Army Depot, or LEAD, demonstrates the production process for isolation gowns to Srinath Asuri, with WellSpan. LEAD is producing personal protective equipment for WellSpan to help combat COVID-19.
Photo By: Pam Goodhart, Army
VIRIN: 200428-A-BS696-1454

While it is a shift from the tents and vinyl products the shop routinely repairs and produces in support of defense programs, this public-private partnership that helps the local community prepare and respond to COVID-19 is a win-win endeavor, said Army Col. Greg Gibbons, the commander of the Letterkenny Army Depot.

"As part of the Army's Organic Industrial Base, Letterkenny is prepared to respond when the nation calls," Gibbons said. "Part of that response is flexibility — and we're proud to provide a solution for our local community."

Letterkenny Army Depot personnel discussing production of isolation gowns with WellSpan.
Gown Production
Logan Robinson, left, and Shawn Hind, right, both with Letterkenny Army Depot, or LEAD, demonstrate the production process for isolation gowns to Srinath Asuri, center, with WellSpan. The gowns are being produced at the LEAD upholstery shop in Chambersburg, Pa. LEAD is producing personal protective equipment for WellSpan to help combat COVID-19.
Photo By: Pam Goodhart, Army
VIRIN: 200428-A-BS696-1449
Letterkenny Army Depot personnel discussing production of isolation gowns with WellSpan.
Fabric Cutter
Shawn Hind, left, and Logan Robinson, both with Letterkenny Army Depot, or LEAD, input data into a Computer Numerical Control fabric cutter to produce an isolation gown at the LEAD upholstery shop, April 23, 2020. LEAD is producing personal protective equipment for WellSpan to help combat COVID-19.
Photo By: Pam Goodhart, Army
VIRIN: 200423-A-BS696-1136

Without missing a beat or losing focus on mission readiness, Letterkenny Army Depot's Manufacturing and Fabrication Division Chief George Coble said directorates across the depot worked to reallocate resources and staff the upholstery shop with 36 employees who began production May 1.

"As a result of our capabilities, we can adjust to changing requirements, and this is what we have done," Coble said. "We can support the warfighter while pivoting to support the health care industry during this state of pandemic."

Public-private partnerships allow the Army's Organic Industrial Base facilities like Letterkenny Army Depot to manufacture or sell products or services to the private sector. However, such a partnership with the medical community is unprecedented, said Dale McClanahan, the chief of business development for the Letterkenny Army Depot.

Letterkenny Army Depot personnel discussing production of isolation gowns with WellSpan.
LEAD Discussion
Shawn Hind, center, with the Letterkenny Army Depot, or LEAD, discusses isolation gown materials with James Eichelberger and Srinath Asuri, both with WellSpan, and Logan Robinson of LEAD at the LEAD upholstery shop, April 22, 2020. LEAD is producing personal protective equipment for WellSpan to help combat COVID-19.
Photo By: Pam Goodhart, Army
VIRIN: 200422-A-BS696-1364

"This is not our normal course of business, but we are honored to be able to assist the local medical community," McClanahan said.

Letterkenny Army Depot is the organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. It was established in 1942 and is a government owned and operated industrial installation.

(Dorie Heyer is assigned to the Letterkenny Army Depot.)