By Brianne Salvati and Erin Finke
Personal-best leadership experiences all begin with a challenge, a novel or difficult situation that requires a change from the norm. Leaders who challenge the process do not back away but rather embrace obstacles and events as opportunities to overcome and thrive. They rise above chaos and uncertainty, boldly risking failure, and courageously overcome fear.
Robin Albers, Area Rehab Director, has demonstrated just this. Alongside the University of Idaho-Moscow Mechanical Engineering Department, Robin served as a healthcare consultant for the design team and tested 20 different prototype masks.
Through this recent hardship, the University of Idaho stepped into an unknown space. They questioned how they could be useful during this time of hardship with the use of their 3D printers. Robin, the university, and a team of healthcare providers designed, printed, and tested 20 different mask prototypes using different materials and designs. With great excitement, they recently decided on two mask fits in two different sizes. These will be piloted in the clinic very soon.
During this process, Robin encouraged engineers to look outside themselves and see it from the view of a healthcare provider about practicality and functionality. Robin reports that during this process they were constantly “failing forward.” This project required many workarounds including changes to face shape – fit around the nose, comfort, obtaining an appropriate seal, and strap design.
Along with the many struggles they also experienced several wins. They received media and newspaper coverage that drew attention and funds for the project. In addition, the university graciously donated 50 face shields, at a value of $600, to show appreciation for Infinity Rehab’s partnership.
Thanks to the University of Idaho, Robin, and team for taking initiative and challenging the status quo, for producing a quality product, and for challenging the assumptions of how PPE fits and functions. Most importantly, thanks for the investment of time and energy into this project to ensure the safety of our patients, staff, and communities.

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