Even as healthcare workers (HCW) have been donning appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while on duty, the country’s Covid-19 caseload continues to grow exponentially in closed spaces such as intensive care units (ICUs) and wards designated for Covid patients, increasing the risk of infection to those working in the area.
Oxygen delivery strategies such as non-invasive ventilation and high-flow nasal cannula for managing patients also generate large amounts of viral-laden aerosols. The same has led to an urgent need to develop a solution for reducing the contagious aerosol imprint in hospitals, thereby minimising the risks to HCW as well as patients.
To address this issue amidst the ongoing pandemic, the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune has come up with ‘Raksha Kawach’, a patient isolation device to protect HCW from infectious aerosols. It was developed by a team led by Lt Col (Dr) Shamik Kr Paul, a neuro-anaesthesiologist and an assistant professor at AFMC’s department of anaesthesia and critical care, and Dr Ajay Suryavanshi, a biomedical engineer and an alumnus of IIT Bombay. The device is not merely Covid-specific — it is also intended to minimise the contagion load in a hospital’s atmosphere housing patients with other airborne diseases.
The Raksha Kawach is a compact, portable and cost-effective aerosol containment system with two modules — a retractable canopy unit to create a physical barrier around the patient and a fan-filter unit to scavenge and filter contaminated air. The canopy is made up of a disposable and transparent enclosure and a reusable plastic frame with detachable components. The fan-filter unit selectively clears off aerosols released from the patient by applying negative pressure over the patient’s exhale cloud by means of suction blower, further filtering through high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) and Ultraviolet C radiation to vent off decontaminated air.
The device’s unique feature is two modes for immediate access to the patient — suitably sized ‘on-off’ windows at the canopy’s front and back walls for brief procedures and instant retraction for long-term procedures. The canopy dimensions are large enough to avoid any patient claustrophobia, while maintaining a smaller footprint to be accommodated in the limited ICU floor space.
The canopy is lightweight and easy to install and can be packed into a carry bag similar to a cricket-kit bag for easy transport and storage. The safety and effectiveness of the device has been established by comprehensive third party validation from a testing facility accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), as per a statement issued on Wednesday.
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