Tomah Health, Tomah, 2020 Community Benefit

Using Ingenuity to Keep Staff Safe

Tomah Health Emergency Services director Suzanne Downing, DNP, RN, and hospital Facility Services coordinator Steve Loging test a newly designed portable bed anti-aerosol hood using a mannequin.
A little ingenuity and imagination can go a long way in time of need. Tomah Health staff used a bit of both to build a portable bed anti-aerosol hood to protect staff in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Tomah Health Emergency Services Director Suzanne Downing got the idea for the hood from a YouTube video that a Taiwanese anesthesiologist developed showing how to protect staff from potentially infectious airborne particles while providing routine care to patients who cough during procedures like intubation, ventilation and nebulizer treatments. 
“After viewing the video, I thought we could have something like that to use if we needed it,” Downing said. 
Together with her 11 yr. old daughter, Emme, Downing got to work in her dining room and built a prototype out of cardboard that she then shared with Tomah Health Facility Services coordinator Steve Loging.
With a few tweaks and input from front-line staff, the two came up with the final design using PVC pipes, plastic film and a sheet of Lexan, which is a polycarbonate resin thermoplastic that is stronger than glass, but flexible to cut and easy to clean. “At first I thought the sample would be too heavy, so we bounced some ideas around and came up with the final design which takes about 45 minutes to assemble,” Loging said. “They are really simple to make.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this prior to this pandemic,” Downing added. “It kind of resembles a croup tent used with children treated with nebulizers, but I have not seen this until this pandemic hit. People are kind of feeding off each other’s ideas on what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
Loging said they made four of the hoods that can be reused after cleaned and new plastic sheeting is installed. “Each one cost us roughly 40 something dollars to make, not including labor time,” Loging added. “We have a template and can knock them out rapidly if we need more.”
Downing said front-line staff was instrumental in the project. “They really liked it and they’re excited to have a protective piece of equipment like this,” she said. 
Even though hospital staff has not had to use the new hood, Downing said they have them available for use in surgery, acute care and emergency departments if the need arises.
She added that Tomah Health would be willing to share the idea and plans with other medical facilities looking to provide a safeguard for staff. “If there are any other health care facilities that are looking for something like this, it is easy and relatively cheap to put together,” she said. “It’s all new to everybody and we’re taking the best ideas that we can find and trying to make them better so we can keep our staff safe.”