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UF Health makes box from PVC pipes, vinyl to limit potential exposure to COVID-19 during intubation

Doctors at UF Health now have another piece of protective equipment to use when inserting a breathing tube into patients with COVID-19.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Many hospitals around the country are building or using new, donated equipment to protect workers from COVID-19. 

UF Health has started building versions of its intubation box. It allows doctors to treat serious cases of coronavirus while limiting the exposure to it. The intubation box is built with PVC pipes, plastic vinyl material and hot glue.

Dr. Andy Godwin, chair of emergency medicine at UF Health Jacksonville says this can help doctors while doing a procedure that carries a higher risk for potential exposure.

“When we need to place a tube in to help someone breathe, the problem currently with COVID-19 is healthcare providers are most at risk when we perform what’s called 'aerosolizing generating procedures,'” Dr. Godwin said. “That’s when the physicians, nursing staff who are bedside have the highest likelihood of coming in contact with the virus and potentially being contaminated."

UF Health staff created at least 20, and each one took about 20 to 30 minutes of assembly.

A standard trash bag is taped to the box so it can isolate the patient and healthcare professionals. It allows a doctor to place a breathing tube into a patient and avoid any potential exposure. Hospitals continue to face a shortage of personal protective equipment. This box becomes another barrier for healthcare workers who could potentially be exposed to coronavirus.

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“We recognize the risk during the pandemic and any type of exposure to infectious organisms," Dr. Godwin said. "We recognize that risk but we want to decrease that as much as possible and minimize exposure to the virus."

UF Health says the boxes will be distributed to high-risk areas like operating rooms, emergency rooms and intensive care units where intubations will be performed.

“We’ve got a good start on that, it’s an easy design that can be produced fairly quickly,” Dr. Godwin said.

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