KALAMAZOO, Mich. — West Michigan companies are getting creative to help healthcare workers in the battle against COVID-19.
Schupan Aluminum & Plastic Sales in Kalamazoo manufactured an acrylic box called Aero|Guard that fits around a patient’s head and is designed to stop the spread of potential COVID-19 particles during invasive procedures like hooking someone up to a ventilator.
The idea stems from a Taiwanese doctor who used a plastic box when doctors were running out of protective equipment in China.
As the COVID-19 outbreak spread, a Kalamazoo nurse teamed up with engineers and Western Michigan University professors to create the prototype.
John Barry, president of Schupan Aluminum & Plastic sales, said his team was able to bring the box to life.
“It's an incredible device that is completely collapsible, it fits specifically the operating room bed or the ICU bed and has a lot of other features that we’ve had really good response with," Barry said.
Bronson Co-Medical Director of the Emergency Department Dr. Mark Kerschner said they use the box during intubation, an invasive procedure that prepares a patient to be connected to a ventilator to help them breathe.
“It’s kind of a plastic see-through box that we put around the patient that decreases the chance that if there are droplets or aerosolized particles that come out through the process of placing a patient on a ventilator," Kerschner said. "It’s just an extra layer that we’re using to keep everybody safe.”
Bronson hospitals across West Michigan have 23 of these boxes on hand and they are reusable if they are sanitized after use.
Barry said there are more than 100 boxes across the country and they are quickly expanding.
“This device can be used for any procedure where you’re going to be very close to a patient's airway," he said. "We’ve had people contact us from all around the country, dentists, ophthalmologists, gastroenterologists, that are looking for an extra layer of protection.”
Barry said Schupan had the materials on hand and were making the boxes internally. He said they could make about 4,000 boxes per week if needed.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded West Michigan businesses, like Schupan, that are stepping up to help where they can during the pandemic.
“Companies throughout Southwest Michigan including Fabri-Kal, Schupan & Sons, Tekna, and others have banned together to produce medical face shields for local healthcare workers,” Whitmer said. "Schupan Aluminum & Plastic Sales in Kalamazoo is developing an acrylic box called the Aero|Guard that gives doctors and nurses an extra layer of protection against COVID-19.”
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