Date: 13 May 2022
Because the Omicron variant that is currently raging can spread easier and faster compared to its predecessors, there has been a substantial surge in the number of patients.“Sometimes, patients do not inform us that they have an infection, so for our patient transfer team, wewear different types of personal protective equipment(PPE)and install our stretchers and wheelchairs with other specialized equipment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,”Punnarat Sappakitchanchai, Head of Patient Transfer Service, said as she described the daily situation at the hospital.
As they say, protection is better than cure. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a few years ago, SCG Chemicals, or SCGC, has been using its innovation and technology expertise to develop Mobile Isolation Units that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in collaboration with medical professionals. During the first wave, SCGC produced several inventions with emphasis on mobility and transportability to remote areas, such as Small Patient Isolation Capsules, Negative Pressure Isolation Rooms, and Negative/Positive Pressure Isolation Chambers. However, to curb the spread of the new variant more effectively, SCGC has been workingclosely with doctors at Siriraj Hospital to understand their problems and unmet needs and has successfully developed three latest models of Mobile Isolation Units, which have been given to Siriraj Hospital for use in protecting both the medical professionals and patients at the hospital against COVID-19.
With cases doubling, preventing the spread of the virus is more important than ever.
Nongnuch Imsap, Head Nurse of Medicine Unit at Siriraj Hospital, recounted the problems facing her team.“Now, our medicine unit is faced with 2-3 COVID-19 cases every day.Sometimes, we have as many as five cases.However, we do not have sufficient negative pressure equipment that can prevent germ dispersal.With more such devices, we would be able to better manager at-risk patients.”
At the same time, staffers or doctors on duty who need to spend the night together in a small on-call room with poor ventilation are also at risk of contracting COVID-19 as they cannot wear a face mask while resting.Diana Woradetsuttichai, a nurse at Siriraj Hospital, described her feelings.“I’m scared that I would contract COVID-19 from my infected co-workers because we spend our days in the ward together.Although we use personal protective equipment,such as face shields and masks,there is still a period where we are vulnerable, which is during our breaks.Despite the partitions and physical distancing, the room is still poorly ventilated, and I simply do not feel safe.”
From insights to the latest models of Mobile Isolation Units
Dr.Suracha Udomsak, Chief Innovation Officer, Executive Vice President-New Business, SCG Chemicals(SCGC)said,“We have been talking with the medical team at Siriraj Hospital to identify issues that they are still facing and their needs that are still unmet.That’s the origin of the three innovationswe have contributed to Siriraj Hospital.SCGC’s aspiration is to develop innovation that’s real–solutions that can truly work, are accessible to people, and help lighten the burden of the medical professionals–in order to keep them safe and healthy and enable them to work with greater confidence.”
The three latest types of Mobile Isolation Units that SCGC has developed and given to Siriraj Hospital are1)Negative Pressure Isolation Hood, which prevents the dispersal of pathogens while waiting for consultation;2) NegativePressure Isolation Wheelchair, which curbs the spread of germs during patient transfer; and3)Positive Pressure Isolation Cocoon, additional equipment that provides healthcare professionals safety and a private space during breaks.
Developed for greater efficiency in reducing pathogen dispersal, the three innovations are equipped with an air pressurization system, a HEPA filtration system, and SCGC’s VAROGARD AC filters, which are coated with antiviral and antibacterial agents capable of inhibiting SARS-CoV-2, thus further enhancing filtration efficiency. The structures have also been designed for greater durability as well as easy and quick installation and disassembly for disinfection.
Real insights into problems through close collaboration
Assoc.Prof.Visit Vamvanit, Director of Siriraj Hospital, described the actual work environment.“Actually, Siriraj has been working with SCGC for over 10 years.Once the doctors and nurses in charge ofon-duty doctor offices, examination rooms, and the emergency room told me about the large numbers of patients they were handling, I thought of SCGC because we had been collaborating.Most importantly, the way we work was not we telling them what we wanted and they coming up with solutions.Rather, we worked together to gradually develop the products, identify what we truly needed, what the options were, and how we could improve on them.We would go then through cycles of prototyping and testing until we get the products that we have today.”
As long as COVID-19 is still around and healthcare workers are still working hard to keep everyone safe, SCGC will continue to support them and work with them to develop innovations that can help medical professionals and Thai society overcome these challenging times together. For additional information on the latest models of mobile isolation units, please contact SCGC firstname.lastname@example.org