Is a Covidnator coming to a hospital near you?
May 12, 2020
By: Ron Reim
Thinking About Innovation in the Time of Covid-19
These days, my mornings are filled with scanning the news for the latest stories that might impact my business and personal affairs. The vast shortage of PPE, personal protective equipment, for first responders and medical center staff is still a very scary reality. The demand for these pieces of equipment is higher than the current supply, leaving healthcare professionals at a loss. As the surge of very ill and very infectious Covid-19 patients enters various healthcare systems, conditions will likely get worse before returning to normal. Everyone is in desperate need of the same supplies. One of which is the ubiquitous N-95 personal respirator mask. Yes, the same product that we all used to buy at the local home supply store when we were sanding or doing home demolition projects. These N-95s are now in short supply across the United States, and possibly across the globe. There are countless horror stories from hospitals on the frontlines needing to ration and reuse N-95’s, forcing staff to continue wearing the masks for full shifts.
Infection control protocols require mask changes between each patient, much like latex gloves and other PPE equipment. Due to the shortage, hospital and first responder staff cannot follow the normal PPE use procedures. This has resulted in unacceptable work-around situations, exposing both medical staff, first responders, and patients to Covid-19. Many hospitals have made emergency calls for others with dwindling supplies to send more. Healthcare professionals have asked construction and related companies to empty warehouses of any unused but vital masks. Individuals have been asked to look in basement stashes and stockpiles in search of anything that might help. To complicate matters, recent shipments from China to both the US and Europe have had a very high number of unviable masks.
A news story on this topic recently caught my eye. The article, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” highlights a Mercy Health hospital in Ohio struggling to solve a PPE shortage that seemingly wasn’t going to be solved by receiving sufficient quantities of new masks. Instead of just accepting the unacceptable situation, the hospital improvised and created a device that helps first responders who arrive at their facility sterilize their used equipment before they head back out on another call. Some of the parts were purchased on Amazon. It is a device they have nicknamed the Covidnator. Equipment is placed inside a specially designed chamber and UV light bathes the gear for a set time. This device sanitizes in a way that is more effective then conventional washing or other treatments. The gear is sanitized in a few minutes and ready to go back out for another use. Assuming that these pieces of gear would have been headed to the landfill, they are now being reused safely and effectively several times over. Hats off to these true innovators. See the link to the story here.