Rowan University team ‘engineers’ safety device for South Jersey doctors intubating COVID-19 patients

April 10, 2020

In an effort to ensure the safety of clinicians, a physician in Taiwan earlier this year designed an acrylic intubation box that fits over the head of a patient with circular ports for the clinician’s hands to perform the airway procedure. Jefferson Health New Jersey Pulmonologist Kelly Schiers, DO, reached out to Assistant Professor Francis “Mac” Haas of Rowan University’s Mechanical Engineering Department with a plea for help to ensure the safety of Jefferson NJ clinicians during COVID-19. 

Performing an intubation – the installation of a breathing tube on a patient – poses one of the highest risks for a healthcare provider caring for a COVID-19 patient. That’s because, during this process, tiny droplets can be spewed out of the patient’s mouth – and COVID-19 can be transmitted through droplets. 

The reusable boxes – which can be cleaned and sanitized for reuse – are made of clear rigid plastic, and act as a mechanical barrier to help shield doctors from infectious bodily fluids during intubation procedures. 

“Within 24 hours, Professor Haas had a prototype developed, and a day later had produced one for each Jefferson NJ Emergency Department and Intensive Care Units,” says Dr. Schiers. “He even delivered them to my home.” 

The Rowan University team included faculty, staff and three graduating seniors who used a Rowan lab to cut and assemble the boxes from large sheets of polycarbonate. The Rowan team donated the cost of the materials, labor and delivery. They are working to produce boxes for other South Jersey hospitals. 

“Our entire healthcare system is so appreciative of Professor Haas and his team for the quick turnaround of this device, which will keep healthcare providers safe during intubation,” says Schiers. “They are the most gracious and kind people.” 

Jefferson Health has the story.  

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.