THE global pandemic has pushed essential businesses to find innovative and efficient ways to ensure that they can still provide their much-needed services while keeping both employees and customers safe. At De Los Santos Medical Center (DLSMC), this meant creating a “new normal” that would allow their invaluable healthcare frontliners all the protocols and equipment they need to provide healthcare services most safely and effectively.
“This is an unprecedented time for everyone in the healthcare industry,” shared Raul C. Pagdanganan, President and CEO of DLSMC. “Virtually overnight, hospitals had to innovate new ways to be able to address the COVID-19 crisis and keep their frontliners safe, while still being able to provide essential health services to other patients in need. The reality we faced is that there is a pandemic but that doesn’t stop other patients from needing healthcare, too.”
DLSMC worked around the clock to give their doctors, nurses, and staff the assistance needed to be able to battle the pandemic safely. This included providing shuttle services during the Enhanced Community Quarantine and securing personal protective equipment. The hospital also worked with partner organizations to provide temporary homes for frontliners, and coordinated donations made by companies and individuals who wanted to help.
While coordinating logistics and operations, DLSMC focused on ways to bolster safety. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, preventing the spread of infection while caring for patients became a top priority. Alongside PPEs, a 24-hour emergency and COVID-19 hotline, and stringent safety measures like regular disinfecting, sanitizing, mandatory masks, social distancing, designated COVID-19 areas, separate elevator access, and temperature checks; the hospital also sought other innovative ways of creating a safer environment. That’s how the Negative Pressure Tent (NPT) program began.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in infections in hospitals; greatly affecting health care workers” said DLSMC Biomedical Engineering Manager, Visha H. Madrangca-Leonor. “According to the World Health Organization, this accounts for roughly 13% of COVID-19 infections. In the region, this is at around 2-3%. We knew we had to take further steps to prevent infection spread in the face of dwindling PPEs so we devised the NPT to use on COVID-19 patients and those suspected of COVID-19.”
A Negative Pressure Tent is a modified version of the Deboisblanc/LSU-Oschner NPT built with available local materials and outsourced parts and created with the help of a biomedical engineer. The team behind the project includes doctors Avenilo “Jun” Aventura Jr. and Emily Aventura along with Visha H. Madrangca-Leonor and August Patacsil.
The NPT works as an isolation technique that can be used in medical facilities. It promotes non-invasive assistance in breathing for patients and helps decrease the risk of infection to healthcare workers and other nearby patients by eliminating the suspension of COVID-19 microbes in aerosolized air through the airflow inside the tent.
These tents may be used with COVID-19 patients or suspect or probable cases who are on BiPAP/High Flow Nasal Cannula, patients who need nebulizing, patients for sputum indication, patients with cough on supplemental oxygen, and patients with procedures done that may require negative pressure.
“NPTs are another way we can help keep our frontliners and patients safe and to curb infection spread,” explained Madrangca-Leonor. “And the design is multi-purpose, too. NPTs may be utilized beyond COVID-19. They can be used for any airborne cases – like tuberculosis. They can even be used for colonoscopy and gastroscopy with some adjustments.” The tent is currently being used in a variety of novel ways, such as in the emergency room, endoscopy, obstetrics, anesthesia, surgery, and even in pediatrics.
To date, 5 NPT units have been donated to DLSMC and are being utilized in the Emergency Room and the Intensive Care Unit. NPTs have also been donated to other private hospitals. “Negative Pressure Tents joins our other safety measures in protecting our patients and doctors,” Pagdanganan said. “Hopefully we will continue to see innovations like these that we can utilize during these challenging times.”