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When the COVID-19 pandemic started to ramp up in early 2020, there was a call to arms in a sense, as staff started to prepare from Intensive Care and beyond at Western Health, which manages a number of major acute hospitals in Melbourne, Australia.
Associate Professor Forbes McGain, intensive care specialist at Western Health, quickly realised that there were some gaps in how they might be able to treat patients with COVID-19. The goal was to find a way to make the air as safe as possible for the hospital staff who were caring for COVID patients.
This episode delves into how Western health doctors and engineering expert, Professor Jason Monty and his colleagues, from the University of Melbourne, came up with a solution to the fear and risk facing hospital workers.
This is the story of the work of a team of experts and it features the Southern Ocean, a pram, a costume designer, 11 days of genius and hard work, and an intensive care nurse with 33 years’ experience who becomes a suspected COVID patient and ends up playing a key role.
The fantastic work of the teams in Footscray ICU is acknowledged in this wonderful story that aired on ABC TV 7.30 Report on Monday 20 July. The TV version of this story also places the spotlight on the development of the patient isolation device by Western Health and The University of Melbourne.
When the device was in its earlier prototype stage in early April, the story also received coverage in the Herald Sun with the story linked here.
21 July 2020
The path to innovation, creation, production and use of the personal ventilation hood has been possible due to the generous and highly responsive support of the University of Melbourne, whose engineering teams worked tirelessly to respond to the brief from Western Health, presented initially by our intensive care physician and anaesthetist, A/Prof Forbes McGain. This response was led by Prof Jason Monty, Professor of Fluid Mechanics, Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering, The University of Melbourne. Prof Monty has also acknowledged the excellent support he in turn received from toolmaker Max Round and Research Engineer, Dr Kevin Kevin and later from colleagues in other fields of expertise within the University, including A/Prof Jo Staines and Dr Robyn Schofield, who then linked them in with experts at CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere Division, Dr Ruhi Humphries and Melita Heywood.
Without the endorsement, encouragement and support of the most senior clinical and executive leaders at Western Health, the project could not have progressed. Thanks in particular go to the Head of Unit for Intensive Care, A/Prof Craig French; Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Eleftheriou and Chief Executive Russell Harrison. Financial support was also provided by the Western Health Foundation and the University of Melbourne.
Hundreds of hours of research and ethics submission coordination and oversight were led by senior Western Health nurses Samantha Bates, Miriam Towns and Bec McEldrew, from the ICU Research team.
The honesty, feedback, testing and encouragement of the staff in the Western Health Intensive Care Units at Footscray and Sunshine Hospitals made it possible for the device to progress through to the stage of clinical device trials and use within the hospitals of Western Health. This was an invaluable role.
Additional support has been provided by many other staff at The University of Melbourne and Western Health and their contribution is also greatly appreciated.
If you would like further information as a result of this story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A/Prof Forbes McGain
Prof Jason Monty
A/Prof Craig French