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Health & Wellness

Kemp Signs Senior Care Home Reform Measure



On July 1, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill (HB) 987, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta) and Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough) into law. Through collaboration with advocacy groups, industry representatives, and legislators, HB 987 provides greater protections for assisted living facility and personal care home residents, strengthens staffing requirements, and increases maximum fines for violations.

“I applaud Rep. Sharon Cooper, Sen. Brian Strickland, and everyone who worked with them to craft this legislation. Their tireless leadership in getting this bill across the finish line will improve the lives of countless people in our great state and bring tremendous comfort to their loved ones,” said Governor Kemp. “One of the key battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19 continues to be in our nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes, and I am proud to say that HB 987 strengthens our collective efforts to protect elderly Georgians in these unprecedented times.”

“I was proud to sponsor HB 987 to protect the most vulnerable, institute common-sense reforms, and ensure those working in these facilities receive the training that they need to care for elderly Georgians. I truly appreciate the support and dedication of my fellow legislators, and Governor Kemp for signing this important measure into law,” said Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta).

“In the State Senate, I was honored to sponsor HB 987, which dramatically strengthens protections for Georgia’s elderly and medically fragile in senior care homes, and I was proud to see it signed into law today, ” said Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough). “Moving forward, we will be better equipped to ensure the health and well-being of these residents across our state.”

Source: Press Release from the office of Governor Kemp

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Peachtree Corners Launches ‘Stay Healthy’ Campaign



As an extra reminder that each of us can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the Peachtree Corners mayor and council have introduced a “Stay Healthy” campaign to remind and encourage its residents and all in the business community to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The city’s campaign includes a series of five Superhero comic panels along with a popular TV
series, Star Trek, with messages encouraging everyone to wear their face masks. The superheroes include Batman and Robin, Captain America, Spiderman and Wonder Woman.

In addition, the city’s campaign features parodies by Mayor Mike Mason and City Manager
Brian Johnson of popular “Great Gatsby” and “Most Interesting Man in the World” memes
along with three additional messages taken from Britain’s WWII well-known “Keep Calm and
Carry On” campaign. The city’s messages offer similar messaging that reads: Keep Calm and
Wash Your Hands; Keep Calm and Social Distance; and Keep Calm and Wear a Face Mask.

In the coming days and weeks expect to see banners, signs, posters and billboards as well as
social media posts spreading the city’s message reminding all to wash your hands frequently
and when out in public to wear face coverings and social distance.

“When the coronavirus began to spread earlier this year, we were instructed to wash our
hands, avoid touching our faces and maintaining a 6-foot social distance from others when out
in public,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “Now health officials are asking we take one more
precaution – cover our faces when away from home and around others.”

The city is hoping the light-hearted approach to encouraging everyone to follow the CDC
guidelines will be an effective message that reaches every age group as everyone is susceptible
to contracting the virus.

“The reality is, COVID-19 is not going to go away anytime soon. Wearing a face covering when
you are out in public is a simple act that can help contain the spread of this, very contagious
and sometimes deadly, virus,” added Mason.

Source: Press Release from the City of Peachtree Corners office

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Stephen Chininis- Local Hero, Part of Five Stories to Brighten Our Spirits



Stephen Chininis, Photo by George Hunter

The Bright Side of Lockdown in Peachtree Corners

We can all relate to the surreal feeling brought on by the coronavirus as we struggled with being caught in this bizarre new world that was difficult to believe yet impossible to ignore. We couldn’t help but feel shocked as it unfolded — it was unprecedented — although there had been a dreadful buzz in the air heading straight for us from miles away.

As our nation is sieged with controversy, climbing death rates, trepidation and uncertainty, I wanted to find some uplifting, local COVID-19 stories that would serve to brighten our spirits. This is part 1 of 5 stories to be posted.

Stephen Chininis — Local Hero

Industrial Designer and Inventor at Chininis Product Development Group — Chininis Designs, Georgia Tech educator, Curiosity Lab mentor and Peachtree Corners resident Stephen Chininis wondered what he could do to help during the crisis. “We all got the sudden shock that the world was changing. I suppose if you’re a poet, you write poems about it. I’m not a poet. I make things. I’m an inventor,” he said.

Behind Every Great Man…

In early March, his wife, former Assistant Principal of Norcross High School, Maria Chininis, suggested he make face shields when she realized her colleagues were in desperately short supply. Mrs. Chininis currently works with a sports medicine group at Northside Hospital.

Equipped with a 3D printer and a laser cutter, her husband got to work in the garage, creating a model to be vetted by the infectious disease staff at Northside. A few modifications later and Chininis was ready to go, well before most. Some were producing one-time-use face shields, but Chininis had specifically received requests for shields that could be cleaned daily and reused.

Steve Chininis’ medical face shield being worn in the ICU, on the front lines. Photo courtesy of Stephen Chininis.

Left, Inventor and Industrial Designer- Stephen Chininis Top right, Stephen Chininis and his wife Maria Middle right, 3D printer Bottom right, Stephen in the work space where he created 3D printed PPE to put in the hands of U.S. hospital and medical staff when they needed it most.

Photos by George Hunter

The Power of 3D Printers

“The companies who produce face shields couldn’t meet the immediate demand. They were ramping up production the same time we were. We beat them; the 3D printers of the world beat them, we got… [face shields] into the ICUs. It’s just a get ‘er done attitude,” Chininis stated.

Regarding his problem-solving approach to life Chininis said, “I’ve always had that attitude; it came from my parents and my upbringing. I think that’s something we need more of. I’m really glad to see my students acting that way. They’re asking how they can help. It’s very infectious. Everybody wants to be a part of making things better.”

He provided over 300 face shields to hospitals all over the U.S. “3D printing has some weaknesses but the strength is, if there’s a problem and you need to solve it, you need a prototype, I can design something, print it overnight, and the next day, I can have the answer,” Chininis said of the low-run production solution he made use of so ingeniously.

“What’s cool is you save the files of all these different things you make, and you can reproduce them again whenever necessary,” Chininis beamed.

Trial and Error

An injection mold is a better way to produce face shields, but it’s a much more expensive endeavor. The mold alone could cost $30,000. It requires special equipment and machines, so the tooling price is prohibitive if you’re only looking to produce a few hundred of them.

With a long-spanning career of 30-plus patents and licenses for over 100 inventions under his belt, Chininis found himself Googling and talking to doctors, trying to find out what kind of plastic other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products were made of so he could use that same grade for his shields.

“It wasn’t as smooth as it sounds,” he recounted, and told of misadventures with industrial plastic companies that would suddenly cancel orders due to COVID-19.

He modified his designs several times to be able to continue making the visors with whatever plastic he could find, often with variations in thickness. The downside: “Sometimes the plastic was heavy, so it wasn’t as comfortable to wear, but better that than not having a visor,” Chininis offered.

An initial model made of acrylic crazed after sitting overnight, forming tiny cracks all over the surface of the shield. Two of his face shields melted when left in direct sunlight for too long but they were returned and easily replaced.

“3D printed plastic is susceptible to high heat. At 150 degrees it will start to bend and melt,” Chininis explained.

Then it was a matter of finding someone who stocked the right plastic in the thickness needed. “It’s all very tedious. Thankfully, my wife helped me,” he noted.

PTC resident, Steve Chininis, makes face shields in his garage. Photo courtesy of Stephen Chininis.
The Cost of 3D Printed PPE

Materials for one medical grade shield run about $10, and the two-hour time frame needed to print it, $50. Yet Chininis offered his products for free to hospital staff. Some recipients offered to help defray the cost of materials for the production of subsequent shields.

Ratted-Out by the Neighbors

“I’d like to point out how lucky I feel to live in Peachtree Corners,” added Chininis, a resident since 1986. When neighbors saw him toiling in the garage in response to the needs of medical staff, the news soon reached CBS who rushed to cover the story in March.

The design that got him recognition was a sturdy yet comfortable mask, made of high-quality plastic that was resistant to chemicals and could easily be washed and reused for several months.

“Everybody wanted one from San Francisco, Louisiana, Atlanta, to Chicago and New York,” he said. His Instagram and Facebook posts resulted in requests pouring in.

When a Community Pulls Together

During the busiest time, he turned to Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners for an extra printer to ramp up production. Chininis had helped set up the 3D printers there when it was still Prototype Prime, and he has been instrumental in the printers’ maintenance ever since.

He also enlisted the help of a former student in Marietta who could make a batch of 10 masks per week to help fulfill the orders.

An ICU hospital employee wears a face shield produced in Chininis’ garage in PTC. Photo courtesy of Stephen Chininis.
Face Shields of the Future

The demand from hospitals started to taper off in early May. It has shifted from PPE for hospital staff use to mask for use by everybody else. Chininis explained, “We’re starting to see a second wave of PPE coming along, not designed for the ICU but for other people. We never really thought about this. How do we protect everybody?”

Chininis is now producing made-to-order shields: “Tell me what you need, I’ll make it.”    People don’t want to take medical grade visor shields away from the ICU, but they do want something to make visiting their parents safer. He’s created a simpler design that can be fastened to a baseball cap.

Chininis meets these challenges with enthusiasm; it’s part of why he loves design so much. Effective design is the result of knowledge, and he has a passion for learning about each new need.

“I try to anticipate what may happen. It’s hard because there’s a lot of conflicting information,” he said.

“People are getting restless. It’s not safe yet and it won’t be for a good while. I’m inclined to listen to doctors and medical people. We did have a great effect on COVID-19 already, we did flatten the curve. I don’t think relaxing [Stay at Home Orders] to a great extent is going to be helpful. It’s going to come back. There are going to be hot spots. The question is how big and where will they be, in our backyard or someone else’s?”

We all Need to get Back to Work — Safely

Chininis was working with dentist Emily Chen, DDS, MA Prosthodontist, the day of our interview, custom designing a visor that would allow for the dental loupes to fit underneath with a headlight affixed to the top. “She’s going to use it over the weekend and let me know on Monday what we should change,” he explained.

He’s also gotten a request from a turkey factory in Minnesota that has asked for face shields that they can attach to their hardhats.

A Humble Hero

When I thanked him for everything that he and his wife have done to make things a little better during this frightening time, Chininis replied: “Honestly, it’s nothing. You do what you do. If you’re a doctor or a nurse, you go to the hospital and you help there. If you drive trucks, then you help with the food supply.”

“I’m really proud of the folks I know who have not been whiney in the face of this crisis. They’ve taken on a ‘We can figure this out’ mindset.”

His unpretentiousness had me on the Coronacoaster of emotions. Eyes welling with tears, I needed him to know that his ingenuity and generosity are everything, especially to those who have loved ones on the front lines.

At this point a blubbering mess, I managed to choke out, “Most of us feel helpless — like there’s nothing we can do.” To which he replied, “But that’s not true. By writing an article, you’re doing something. Right? It’s just a matter of everyone figuring out what they’re good at.” That’s when I would’ve hugged him if I could, but alas, distanced Zoom interviews are the new normal.

To learn more about our local hero, a man you want on your side when the chips are down, visit ChininisDesign.com.

Photos by Photographer George Hunter

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Gwinnett expanding Summer meals program for kids



Gwinnett County Summer Meal Program

Gwinnett County and Gwinnett County Public Schools are teaming up to help ease hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to feed Gwinnett’s children during the summer.

On Friday, May 15, Gwinnett County Public Schools will wrap up the meal service it has provided for the last two months to Gwinnett children 18 years and younger. This service has provided more than 2.2 million meals at 67 school locations and included delivery by school buses within identified clusters. Gwinnett County will fill in when the school district’s program ends by starting its Summer Meals program on Monday, May 18.

Gwinnett County’s program, now in its second year, will expand to add locations and free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches for children 18 years old and younger. Parents can pick up nutritious meals for their children at 18 park locations around the county to take home or the children can pick up their own meals. The meals, which consist of things like sandwiches and wraps, meet USDA guidelines.

“It is the common goal of the Board of the Commissioners and the Board of Education to assist families and make sure children receive nutritious meals during this challenging time,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash. “For some kids, this may be the only meal they get that day. The Board of Commissioners especially want to recognize the school board’s efforts to feed children during the digital learning days just ending and the work they will do when their meals program picks up again in June.”

Locations were selected based on school clusters with 50 percent free-and-reduced-lunch student populations. The Summer Meals program complements a summertime meals program for students offered by Gwinnett County Public Schools. Meals are also available for adults with disabilities. The school district will ramp up its Seamless Summer feeding program for children June 8-26, and will provide school locations once they are finalized.

“This partnership between the school district and the county is a shining example of how Gwinnett County comes together to serve our community,” says CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin

Wilbanks. “Working together, we will be able to bridge the gap and provide food to children while school is not in session over the summer.”

The County program, part of the Summer Food Service Program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is being sponsored by the nonprofit Georgia Nutritional Services Inc., which will provide the vendor for the meals.

Last year, Summer Meals served about 10,200 lunches at three parks, which was supplemented by a similar county program that served another 6,500 meals to kids at four other County locations. Children ate lunches and snacks on-site but because of social distancing requirements, the USDA is allowing people to take the meals home this year.

Funding for the program comes from the USDA.

Registration is not required. Meals can be picked up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. while supplies last at:

For more information, visit www.GwinnettSummerMeals.com or call 770-822-8840.

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