Aeronautical engineers from Paramount Group have teamed up with emergency doctors at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg on the design and production of an ‘intubox’ personal protection equipment device that will help protect frontline healthcare workers when treating patients suffering from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Responding to the call of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who urged the public and private sectors to join forces in the fight against COVID-19, Paramount Group said it has pledged its support for the country by making available its resources, from aircraft for the delivery of medical supplies, to its manufacturing facilities and highly skilled engineers and technicians, for the production of medical equipment.
The ‘intubox’ – an innovation by Professor Feroza Motara and medical teams from Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital – provides a high-quality, lightweight and transparent protective enclosure around the head and chest of patients, helping to limit contact with patients during intubation (inserting a tube through the mouth into an airway), extubation (removing the tube) and aerolising procedures. It can also be used for drug resistant TB patients, and patients suffering from Ebola.
Motara told Times Select she and her team came up with the idea but with sponsorship from Firstrand, Spire and Paramount aeronautical engineers, the team was able to modify it and get it off the ground.
South Africa has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases on the continent to date (nearly 1800) and the protection of frontline healthcare workers are critical to ensure that there are enough doctors and nurses to fight the pandemic.
The engineering teams from Paramount Aerospace, who are normally designing and manufacturing aircraft, jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with medical professionals to help improve the protection of those who needed it most: doctors, nurses and other clinicians at hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients.
Following the successful development of a number of prototypes, Paramount has started production of 500 ‘intuboxes’ destined for Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and other hospitals in Gauteng. The ‘intuboxes’ have been designed to be collapsible and foldable, allowing for ease of deployment, transportation and storage.
Willie van Biljon, CEO of Paramount Aerospace, stated that, “It has always been the mandate of Paramount Group to combine next-generation technological innovation with Africa-borne ingenuity to protect personnel in peacekeeping, police and defence force operations. Ultimately, it’s about saving lives. It is a great privilege to support healthcare workers in this way and to play a role in the countrywide effort against the impact of the coronavirus.”
“The design and manufacture of these novel Intuboxes plays a key role in protecting those on the frontlines of this struggle, working to check the continued outbreak of COVID-19 in our country. We commend Professor Motara and her medical teams at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in making this initiative a reality. Together, we are privileged to assist the efforts of South Africa’s men and women, keeping safe those who are literally putting their lives on the line on a daily basis on our behalf, as we collectively tackle COVID-19 to ensure a brighter tomorrow.”
Motara said: “Our research has showed us that the ‘intubox’ would decrease the risk of health workers being infected. We were really worried of the potential burden that COVID-19 could bring to our health system. We are already short of doctors and nurses. It is our hope that these devices would be deployed across the country to maximise the protection for our frontline workers.”
The Gift of the Givers will be distributing the devices to hospitals in Gauteng.