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High quality, disposable certified medical grade masks being made in Rhode Island

High quality, disposable certified medical grade masks are being made in Rhode Island. (WJAR)
High quality, disposable certified medical grade masks are being made in Rhode Island. (WJAR)
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Supply has caught up with demand, so it's easier to find face coverings to wear for safety during the pandemic.

But what about "higher quality," not only made in the United States, but made in Rhode Island, too?

The team of more than 30 workers at Response Medical in West Warwick knows the importance of the mission here.

Mike Quackenbush, the process engineer for Response Medical, said, "The most rewarding part to me is that we are supplying PPE (personal protective equipment) to people to protect them from the virus."

When the pandemic began, local entrepreneurs invested $1.5 million to manufacture high quality, certified, disposable three-layer surgical masks -- the first in Rhode Island.

Roger LaFlamme, the Chief Executive Officer at Response Medical, explained, "Initially, all of the production was to deliver to the military, the DOD (Department of Defense)."

With that order has now been filled, the company is now marketing the masks that filter 98% of bacteria and submicron particulates to the consumer.

"We can do 90,000 per manufacturing cell," added LaFlamme. "We have two on a two-shift basis per day. That's a lot of masks."

So far, they're on the shelves at the four Salk's Hardware Stores in Rhode Island at $14.99 a box of 50. But getting in to the big corporate chains, like CVS, Walgreens, and Home Depot, that carry mostly foreign made masks says LaFlamme that retail $8.99 to $34.99 a box of 50, is a challenge.

"I do think that there are people who care about local about in Rhode Island. I think people care about quality. But most people don't understand what they're buying," said LaFlamme.

Since Response Medical ramped up production in West Warwick, they've been able to produce nearly 6 million of the Level 2 Nelson Certified Surgical Masks.

"Most of what's in these stores (the big chains) that comes in from Asia would never meet the quality standards that we can," said LaFlamme.

The company will continue to crank out safety and protection through the pandemic and beyond for the foreseeable future -- made in Rhode Island, made in the United States.

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