By Wendy Sweeter
To help meet the local need for hand sanitizer, POET has begun producing the product at its Chancellor plant.
POET donated 220 gallons of sanitizer to the City of Sioux Falls and 780 16-ounce bottles to the South Dakota Health Care Coalition.
According to a press release, as COVID-19 began spreading rapidly across the state, POET embraced its culture of innovation and found a way to use its existing resources and expertise to protect frontline workers. POET’s strengths in engineering and operations positioned it to quickly enhance the existing capabilities at its Chancellor facility to create the bio-based sanitizer product that will alleviate a need in the community.
“Frontline workers are facing risks every day to keep our communities safe from COVID-19, and we all need to do our part. At POET, we saw an opportunity to help our community while living our mission - to be good stewards of the Earth by converting renewable resources to valuable goods - and created an all-natural ethanol-based sanitizer product. Bio-based products, like the sanitizer we’re donating today, are a safe, affordable solution for our community’s everyday needs from fuel for cars to sanitizer for our families,” said Jeff Broin, POET founder and CEO.
POET partnered with Senproco Inc. in Sioux Falls to bottle the sanitizer. Senproco owner Dan Dressen said they are a manufacturing facility for pet grooming products, and he thought if they could find a way to get the raw materials, they could bottle sanitizer. He reached out to POET and coincidentally they were working on it.
Last week they set up their line for the first run. With their first run, they had always intended to give it away. All of it has been given away. This week they started bottling for sale. They are trying to get sanitizer to retail stores.
All of the product comes to Senproco pre-blended in totes. They run it through their line to put in bottles, label and then box.
“Senproco Inc. was proud to provide bottling services to ensure this critical product was available and accessible to those who need it the most during this challenging time,” Dressen said.
The coalition distributed sanitizer to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, firefighters, EMS and other frontline workers in Minnehaha, Lincoln and McCook counties last week. South Dakota Health Care Coalition executive director Lynn DeYoung split up the 65 cases they received to places in Lincoln County like the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lennox Ambulance, Good Samaritan Society in Lennox, Morgan Lane Assisted Living in Tea and Tea Police.
DeYoung worked to identify what facilities were in need of hand sanitizer. They knew POET wanted to be specific in getting sanitizer to long-term care facilities and first responders.
“Knowing that Lincoln and Minnehaha counties are hotspots and looking at the vulnerability of first responders, the patients and nurses and other staff at long-term care, we know that it’s really difficult to get a hold of this stuff at common sense prices or at any price,” DeYoung said. “With POET being innovative and saying we can help you, it was certainly a help for all of us.”
DeYoung said the need for hand sanitizer is great right now. The partnership with POET has been beneficial for many in need in the area.
“We hope that they’ll continue to manufacture it so we would certainly take donations, but we’d also be a customer. We know that times are tough and things are tough, not only in the healthcare industry but in agriculture and Main Street USA,” DeYoung said. “We have funds to do some of these things. We’re not looking for handouts. We’re just looking for opportunities to purchase the equipment required to protect patients, citizens and first responders across South Dakota.”
In addition the South Dakota Health Care Coalition, the City of Sioux Falls also received sanitizer. Matt McAreavey with Sioux Falls Fire said they received sanitizer in gallon jugs and 16-ounce bottles. He said the need is great among first responders in the Sioux Falls metro area with the pandemic and the increase in medical calls.
“We are wearing masks now, like the cloth masks, while on duty. We change out to an N95 whenever we go on a medical call. When that happens, we need to sanitize our hands between each of those processes so there’s an increased need to sanitize in that process,” McAreavey said. “Our number of calls are going up, plus the number of sanitizing events are going up, so with that happening there was an increased need.
“We have some supply and we’ve had supplies ordered but there’s definitely a lot of challenges in the supply chain right now. When this opportunity came up, it was an absolute breath of fresh air because it was one piece to sustain because now we know that we’re going to be able to sustain through what we expect to be the duration of this event,” he said.