Carlos Simón is an engineer in Tampico. Along with his wife and with the help of some doctors, they deliver acrylic boxes to hospitals in his state fighting the coronavirus pandemic. With this medical equipment, they want to mitigate the number of infections among doctors and nurses.
“Doctors from different hospitals told us that when a suspected or infected patient arrives they hat to intubate them if they are seriously ill. This means that they have to introduce the equipment for ventilation,” says Carlos.
At that moment, patients cough and expel fluids and particles from their lungs which is usually where the virus is located. This contaminates the whole area and is a hazard for healthcare workers around.
That is how they told them this kind of boxes can be helpful. Carlos says that they looked for the model and found there is a low of information on the Internet in the open platform created by other countries.
Hence, they joined the global initiative called Open Source COVID-19 Medical that already involves at least 60 countries, including Mexico. This platform has designs that can be replicated to help during the pandemic.
“That’s how we built the acrylic cube; now, when the patient is in the hospital bed, it’s as if they were inside a fish tank without the back part; it also has two holes to introduce the arms,” explains Carlos.
“Thus, when patients cough, the particles remain inside the box. We modified it and reinforced it based on experience because it’s already being used in hospitals and we want to make this information available so that other people can build them,” he adds.
When a patient is intubated, they cough and the room is contaminated. A physical barrier retains what otherwise would spread.
Therefore, it can be easier to disinfect the área and the virus might not reach the doctors or their protective equipment. Carlos mentions that other countries use similar equipment but, besides not being available, it is more expensive.
“This is a fast solution that works perfectly; it is an open-source because there are no patents. People is using it in other countries because they have good results,” he adds.
The intubation box is 40cm long and 50cm wide. It covers the head and the neck. The box is light and portable and weighs some 2 kg.
Carlos wants people to use the information available on the platform to create their own intubation boxes and donate them to medical centers that need them. “It’s not hard once you have the instructions; the hard part is to have the exact measures, knowing the size and the materials. So by sharing that information, the learning process will be easier.”
Carlos thinks that each intubation box has a cost of MXN $1,500.
Carlos and his wife are principals at a Tampico school. Although the facilities are closed right now and the students are taking online classes, they have built the boxes in there.
This is also an example for students to realize that despite the lockdown, they can perform several projects to help those at the frontline against the new coronavirus. “It’s a story of collaboration because we, as a school, want to inspire students to be supportive but also to notice that they can create useful products,” says Carlos.
When they deliver the intubation boxes in hospitals, some doctors have also asked them to modify the design according to their daily experience intubating patients. “The acrylic can be cut according to different measures using adequate adhesive. We build it and give to doctors for free,” says the engineer.
He adds that the boxes have been given away as donations. Some foundations and private companies have helped them by buying materials.
They noticed the shortages of high-demand supplies in the health sector. That s why they made face shields at first and shared the information to make them in a tutorial so that they could be made at home at a low cost.
They learned about the necessity for this product from doctors themselves.
“We saw that doctors were desperate and worried because they fear getting infected and we had to give them a fast solution. The problem is here right now; we’re looking for a way to directly support them,” says Carlos.
He says that it takes them almost one day to build an intubation box and they deliver it the next day to doctors.
The box is reusable since it can be disinfected and cleaned when required.
However, he remembers that protective equipment is non-negotiable. It is possible not to use the box but it is essential for doctors to always be protected.
He asserts that there are medical personnel that only use the box due to the lack of supplies but it is not enough to protect them.
One last suggestion from Dr. Mosqueda is the use of a videolaryngoscopy, a device through which the procedure can be done at a larger distance so that medical personnel is not so close when patients cough. The device has a camera that shows where to put the pipes.
Carlos’s initiative joins many others who Mexican who pant to support healthcare workers around the world fighting COVID-19. That is why they make their information available for others to make the equipment to protect healthcare workers.