SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Janicki Industries was looking for ways to help local hospital workers further protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local hospitals, meanwhile, were interested in ways to lessen or prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 during intubation and oxygen-nebulizer procedures.
The two found each other.
Janicki Industries has built what are called intubation boxes and portable isolation rooms for PeaceHealth United Medical Center in Sedro-Woolley and Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon.
“Our guys were excited to work on both these projects,” said Andy Bridge, Janicki Industries vice president of industrial markets. “It’s a unique opportunity for individuals at our company to help out on a personal level.
“When you challenge them to come up with a design, and you only have a couple of days, that is very inspirational. It’s a good opportunity for our team.”
Intubation is the process of inserting a tube into the airway so a ventilator can assist with breathing — a vital part of COVID-19 treatment.
Those being intubated usually expel respiratory droplets laden with a high viral load, thus making those patients highly contagious.
Janicki Industries’ intubation box protects medical workers from those respiratory droplets with a protective barrier.
The boxes, which measure 3 feet by 3 feet, are lightweight yet durable, and are constructed from clear polycarbonate. They fit around the head and shoulders of patients, and have holes that allow medical personnel to insert their arms inside to perform the procedures.
Once the procedure is complete, the box is removed and sanitized.
“They made a couple of different sizes to start and the first ones were a little narrow, so it was a little hard to put over the shoulders of some patients,” said PeaceHealth United General Medical Center Emergency and Trauma Manager Jezwah Harris. “But then the next size up was much more conducive to that.”
The idea for making portable isolation rooms came from Skagit Regional Health Chief Medical Officer Connie Davis.
She was interested in better isolating COVID-19 patients from hospital workers during oxygen-nebulizer treatments. She had an idea, sketched it out and the draft was given to Janicki Industries.
Days later, Janicki Industries Program Manager Bryan Harris submitted a design for an 8-feet tall, 4-feet by 4-feet portable isolation room.
It included a door big enough to allow for wheelchairs, and a 110-cubic-feet-per-minute ceiling fan with a three-micron HEPA filtration system that create a slight vacuum. The vacuum prevents air that might carry the coronavirus from escaping.
“It’s very cool,” Jazwah Harris said of the portable isolation room. “It’s an isolation room on wheels that lifts up, wheels itself around, sets itself down. Essentially, it will let you do any type of procedure that could possibly expose someone to COVID and not expose an entire room or an entire department to the virus.
“It’s its own contained unit. You can put it outside or whatever. You can place it anywhere you want to really.”
Each hospital has received several intubation boxes, and 10 days after Davis’ initial request one portable isolation room.
For Janicki Industries, designing and building the intubation boxes and isolation rooms was simply a matter of seeing needs and meeting them.
“We just wanted to see what we could do to help,” Bridge said. “Our focus is not to make any money on these. Our whole focus has been, ‘What do the local health care workers need and what do the local hospitals need?’ We want to help where we can.”
Bridge said Janicki Industries has plans to make more of each item, but only enough to fill the needs locally.
“We are really kind of hoping other people will just copy our design and use it as kind of an open source,” he said.