Inside INdiana Business

Notre Dame making PPE for healthcare providers

Intubation boxes (photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame)

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The University of Notre Dame is manufacturing intubation boxes for local healthcare providers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The university says the personal protective equipment is essential in protecting medical workers during the intubation process.

The Notre Dame Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering is designing and fabricating two versions of the boxes with specialized equipment from the Hessert Laboratory for Aerospace Research.

Intubation boxes, which are clear, open-ended cubes, are built to fit over a patient’s head while healthcare professionals insert a tube into the airway to accommodate a ventilator. The university says the PPE its making is necessary because patients are sedated during intubation and are therefore unable to control coughing or gagging, creating the potential for exposure.

The boxes are based on a prototype developed by Matt Leevy, director of the Innovation Lab at the Notre Dame IDEA Center, Dr. Phillip Schafer of Elite Emergency Physicians, and Adrian Gonzalez, a mechanical engineer and Notre Dame ESTEEM program graduate.

“We were able, in a week’s time, to evolve four prototypes, then turn that over to the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering for manufacture on a two-week lead time,” said Leevy.

The boxes will be used by two local healthcare providers: Elite Emergency Physicians will receive 26 boxes, and Saint Joseph Health System will receive 20.

In addition to the boxes, Notre Dame is completing PPE orders for over 5,000 3D-printed face shields and more than 10,000 “ear savers,” which improve the fit and comfort of face masks.

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