LACEY – Jeff Borghoff is not who people think of when they hear the term “Alzheimer’s.”
The 56-year-old Forked River resident has been volunteering his time to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and health workers.
After hearing about the shortage of equipment he knew he had to help. But being a good Samaritan has a second purpose, too: bringing awareness to the public of Younger Onset/Early-Stage Alzheimer’s.
“Alzheimer’s is not just a disease for older adults,” Borghoff said. “Younger Onset/Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease affects many individuals in their 40s and 50s and in a lot of instances it goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.”
Approximately 200,000 Americans have this incurable disease.
Borghoff was diagnosed in 2016. After being a software developer for 20 years, he knew he had to develop his own mind, and keep it sharp. He completed a program to earn his 3D printing certification.
With this knowledge, he was able to print 50 protective shields for the Ocean County drive thru testing site and has already started printing more for local long-term care facilities.
A 3-D printer builds an object one layer at a time until it’s complete. In this case, it is literally building a plastic object one tiny layer at a time until it’s real. The printer is told what to make by giving it a design file. If you’ve ever run your finger over a printed page and felt a slight bump over the letters, it’s because the ink is standing up on the page. This is the same principle: the 3-D printer makes plastic stand up layer after layer.
“I felt it was my obligation to give back to the community and help the frontline workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect all of us and save lives,” Borghoff said.
He got the 3-D printing bug from a good friend and now he can produce up to two shields an hour.
“I love doing it and it’s great therapy for me,” he said. “As long as there’s a need I’ll continue to do my best to make as many shields as I can. So many generous people have helped along the way by making donations to purchase some of the materials needed to make the shields.”
“I was immediately impressed by Jeff’s enthusiasm and passion for this project,” recalled Mukesh Roy, OCHD Public Health Planner. “When he came to visit the COVID-19 test site he was genuinely impressed by the work being done by our public health crews working the front lines of the pandemic. He was such an inspiration to everyone who met him and our staff couldn’t be more pleased to receive the protective shields.”
“The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is so grateful that Jeff, despite his health challenges from Younger Onset/Early-Stage Alzheimer’s, chose to provide these certified face shields for our COVID-19 testing site staff,” said Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Jeff has gone way above and beyond to do his part during the pandemic and is certainly a great inspiration to us all.”
When Jeff isn’t dedicating his time to designing protective shields, he works tirelessly with the National Alzheimer’s Association as a member of the National Early-Stage Advisory Group, an Early-Stage Ambassador with the Delaware Valley & Greater NJ Early Stage Advisory Councils and an Alzheimer’s Congressional Team member.
For more information on Borghoff’s mission or Younger Onset/Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease visit borghoff.com. For more information regarding COVID-19 visit the Ocean County Health Department website at ochd.org.