Personal protective booths to allow for increase in COVID-19 testing

Personal protective booths allow health care providers to collect a swab without making contact with a patient.

BOSTON — It’s a concept that started in South Korea and now it’s become a reality in the on-going fight against COVID-19 in Massachusetts. Personal protective booths allow health care providers to collect a swab without making contact with a patient.

Dr. Kristian Olson, director of Mass General Hospital’s Springboard Studio, helped develop a design for MGH in just nine days.

Last week, the ‘Hexapod’ was introduced to Mass General’s HealthCare Center in Chelsea, which is experiencing the largest number of cases in the state. A second ‘Hexapod’ is being brought to that same location later this week to ramp up testing even more.

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“We’re hoping to increase it, so there’s 150 to 200 a day that may be able to be tested without having to crowd into a crowded clinic space,” Dr. Olson explained.

The booths, which are expected to appear at a growing number of facilities in the weeks ahead, also help to conserve personal protective equipment.

“We wanted to minimize the use of PPE, and it seems like that’s what is happening with decreased use of gowns and N95 masks,” explained Dr. Olson. “If only 1% of the country at present has been tested, I think we are going to have to have more efficient and safer testing moving forward.”

More personal protective booths are being deployed at additional Mass General Hospital locations later this week. The booths can be used to provide patients with oxygen and nebulizer treatments with the ability to switch from positive to negative air pressure.

“It’s so much quicker than a negative pressure room in terms of air exchanges. It’s less surfaces to wipe down while you have the next patient come in,” added Dr. Olson.

Dr. Olson credits the entire team for coming together and developing a cutting-edge design in a short amount of time. He said the team is now also assisting in efforts to introduce these booths in other parts of the world, including India and Africa.