Arrotek Part of Collaborative Effort to Enhance Protection From COVID-19 for Frontline Healthcare Staff

We’ve heard a lot in the news recently about PPE for healthcare staff – the equipment that protects them from COVID-19 infection. Arrotek is currently contributing to a project that aims to add an additional level of protection for those working on the hospital frontline.

The Problem and the Solution

Clinicians and other hospital workers are at a high risk of infection from COVID-19 during respiratory tract procedures such as intubation and extubation, i.e. the procedures required to put patients on ventilators. This applies even when PPE is worn.

The new product being developed will allow clinicians to perform respiratory tract procedures in a sealed environment. The device is a bag made from transparent plastic that seals the patient’s face. Any infected particles coughed up or breathed out by the patient remain sealed in the bag. The bag contains holes for clinicians to put their arms through to perform the procedure.

Aaron Hannon is a researcher at NUI Galway. He said the new device can be used during other clinical procedures too: “COVID-19 is a disease with an infection intensity that nobody has faced before. Normal healthcare procedures must continue, however, causing great anxiety among clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

“The product we are developing could be used for other procedures, including general keyhole surgeries, to provide additional protection for patients and healthcare staff.”

Rapid Development

The development of the new product is a collaboration between NUI Galway and Ireland-based medical device companies. Arrotek is providing design and prototyping assistance.

Aaron said the collaborative effort to get the product developed, in addition to the responsiveness of clinicians and the HPRA, has been unprecedented: “Our goal is to make as much of an impact as possible and to use the resources we have in Ireland as best we can.

“Central to this effort is the not-for-profit approach we are taking. This means we are distributing the new device at cost price and will donate it where we can.

“Our partners, including Arrotek, have engaged fully with the not-for-profit approach, helping us get the product developed and to the frontline as quickly as possible.

Ger O’Carroll, Director at Arrotek, said: “It’s our privilege to use the medical device design and prototyping expertise we have here in Arrotek to support this crucial project.

“Protecting our frontline healthcare workers has to be our main priority. We are rethinking how ICUs operate and are making frontline healthcare workers safer as a result.”