“I think a lot of us have a lot of anxiety about this wave that’s about to hit us,” said Dr. Ben Reeser.
Reeser, an emergency room physician, and many other healthcare workers are risking everything to step in front of that wave.
State health officials say coronavirus cases are expected to peak next month with hospitalizations looking to peak in May.
“I have physicians that are purchasing their own PPE, bringing it into the hospital, any sort of way we can create barrier protections,” said Dr. Reeser.
Shortages in PPE are forcing many to think outside the box. That’s when Dr. Reeser came up with a box of his own, one based on Taiwanese doctor Hsien Yung Lai’s design.
“Basically we are intubating almost all of these patients that would normally go on a positive pressure system, the C-PAP, or the Bi-PAP,” said Dr. Reeser.
Studies show non-invasive ventilator masks like ones used for CPAP and BiPAP, are more susceptible to exposing the virus through aerosolization, putting healthcare workers and the patient in more danger.
“Every time we intubate, there’s probably at least four other people in the room,” said Dr. Reeser. “There is the physician, a nurse, respiratory therapist, and more all exposed during that procedure.”
That’s where the box comes in. It’s made of fiberglass with two holes cut out to allow the doctor to insert his or her arms. The box is placed around the patient’s head allowing doctors to intubate them without the risk of contracting the virus.
“Every time you pull out that scope, pull out that stylet, particulates are connected to those, they go up in the air, right into the face of the person doing the intubation,” said Dr. Reeser.
The box is meant to contain those particulates. It’s then sterilized and used for the next patient.
“He said we have these things that we have to make to save people’s lives,” said Matthew Moore of Urban Plough Furniture in Phoenix. “That’s all it took for us to get started right away.”
Moore and his team have been working for the last 48 hours to construct the boxes, using high-tech design equipment to cut the plexiglass with precision.
“What we wanted to do is make something that we knew somebody else could put together with little or no instruction and something that could be created really quickly,” said Moore.
Another company is also stepping up to help make them. Tuft & Needle has also made a generous donation to make it a reality.
They are delivering the boxes in two ways. One would ship the box fully constructed, the other would send it in pieces to be put together when received.
The team has already distributed several boxes to ICUs in the Valley.
They're now releasing the programmable design on their website for other manufacturers to copy across the country, giving doctors a fighting chance to stay on the front lines and out of quarantine.
The boxes cost about $200 to build and Dr. Reeser hopes to cover some of those costs through donations.