U of R doctors and engineers team up to develop intubation boxes for COVID-19 patients


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A team of emergency doctors and engineers from the University of Rochester are teaming up to bring COVID-19 intubation boxes to hospitals in our area. The boxes will be used to protect healthcare workers on the frontlines as they perform intubation procedures on COVID19 patients in emergency rooms.

The project started after URMC healthcare workers returned from fighting the virus on the frontlines of the coronavirus epidemic in New York City. The returning doctors approached Greg Gdowski, the U of R Executive Director for the Center for Medical Technology and Innovation. They asked him for help bringing the intubation boxes which were used to fight the virus in New York City here.

The box was relatively simple to make. Gdowki said they had a prototype built the same day that the doctors approached him. Two weeks later a finalized version of the intubation box was completed.

“It took us probably four or five prototypes before we got to the point which we really like the design and it was working well,” Gdowski said.

The intubation boxes protect caregivers when they’re intubating COVID-19 patients. That’s the procedure that places a tube in a patient’s throats so that they can breathe with the assistance of a ventilator.

“You know without a box, they’re often one or two feet from the patients head during that procedure. So they’re fairly close. They have tools which are video assisted which allow them to do it at a distance, but in most cases, the clinician is very close to the patient and is at risk because things are in close proximity,” Gdowski said.

The box is used to contain the virus. It is designed to physically block virus particles from spreading to others in an emergency room.

“It’s all about protecting the caregiver right. So not just the ER clinician that’s doing the intubation to put people on ventilator support. But all of the other support people that are in the emergency room at the time that the procedure is being done,” said Gdowski.

The project was a collaboration between URMC doctors and engineers with the Hajim School of Engineering.

The intubation boxes are already being used locally at URMC. And more boxes are in the works for U of R satellite medical facilities.

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