New ideas are vital to conquering the COVID-19 pandemic, and Augusta University has stepped up to the plate to innovate in a variety of ways, including printing equipment via 3D technology and creating an app to connect patients via telehealth.
Taking advantage of 3D technology
The need for personal protective equipment and testing supplies only continues to grow, even as supply chains struggle to keep up with demand. To help ensure Augusta University Health’s front line workers have the protection they need, a number of faculty members teamed up with regional companies and a local software engineer to produce 3D-printed molds and create at least 500 reusable silicone face masks. This group of faculty also led the effort to provide AU Health with 1,000 3D printed face shields.
The Dental College of Georgia is also taking on the challenge to produce 5,000 3D-printed nasal swabs daily as Augusta University and AU Health partner with the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia National Guard to coordinate centralized scheduling for the state’s COVID-19 specimen point of collection sites. Gov. Brian Kemp applauded the team for taking on this labor-intensive process. “This capacity reduces the stress on vendors and government entities as we boost testing and get Georgians back into the workplace,” Kemp said.
Extra protection during intubations
Intubating a patient who has COVID-19 is a high-risk procedure because viral particles become aerosolized, which increases the risk of transmission of disease to health care workers. Thanks to a design created by a doctor in Taiwan, and the collaboration of several certified registered nurse anesthetists and a local professional engineer, safer intubations at Augusta University are now possible. Taking it a step further with additional modifications, an AU Health and Medical College of Georgia Emergency Department doctor and his brother are producing even more of these polycarbonate intubation boxes in an effort to better protect front line health care workers.
There’s an app for that
On more than one occasion, Gov. Kemp has touted AU Health’s ExpressCare app, which was recently made available to people across the state. The app, which was created in-house, uses telehealth technology to allow people to be screened for COVID-19 virtually, 24/7, with no appointment and at no charge. It’s been a rousing success for the AU Health Healthcare Information Systems team, with over 14,000 screenings so far. As telehealth and virtual technology start to become the “new normal,” the team at AU expects the app to continue to be crucial even post-pandemic.