"Armor" Invention Protects Test Providers

Testing people for COVID-19 puts providers at risk of catching the virus, so they cover themselves head-to-toe in personal protective equipment (PPE).

Plexiglass booths also protect providers but have drawbacks.

“The plexiglass booths serve the purpose of conserving PPE, but they are expensive and difficult to move around,” said CHI Health Infectious Disease Specialist Renuga Vivekanandan, MD.

As members of the innovation team looked at images of the large rectangle boxes, Brian Smith, who at that time served as Facilities Compliance Coordinator for CHI Health, also saw problems: “How will we transport them, and where will they be stored?”

Dr. Vivekanandan and Smith immediately went to work. Their vision was to create a collapsible booth – similar to isolation booths that are often stood up in emergency situations.

Initial ideas were sketched in AutoCAD and the final product quickly evolved. The team took the idea to Heartland Awning & Design for production, and a great partnership was formed.

The end result – an inexpensive booth that can be set up in less than 60 seconds and fits in a duffle bag. The health care provider stands inside, protected by thick, clear non-permeable fabric. Their arms fit into arm-length rubber gloves, allowing them to test for COVID-19 without all the PPE.

“This booth allows us to save valuable PPE while providing great patient care because staff know they are completely safe,” said Dr. Vivekanandan. “Additionally, if the booth is used outside, it cuts down on cleaning in between patients. When testing in a clinic room, the entire room must be disinfected in between patients.”

The booth is also equipped with a positive pressure environment with filtered air, so it can be used in even more hazardous environments.

“This will give people the ability to respond faster and safer – especially internationally in remote locations where they have limited resources,” Smith said. “And, it is reusable.”

The testing booth will be piloted at CHI Health Clinics, but could be used globally. “We wanted to create something community hospitals could use – something deployable, affordable and easily transported,” said Dr. Vivekanandan.

Reflecting on what the team created, Smith said, “It’s like building a piece of armor.”

Renuga Vivekanandan, MD

Infectious Diseases