Solutions developer for the offshore industry Trendsetter Vulcan Offshore (TVO), has collaborated with pulmonary and critical care physician Luis E. Chug, MD, to introduce personal protective equipment for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The ViraBox is a plastic enclosure that covers the upper part of a patient and allows medics to use sealed access holes to provide care.
“TVO has a history of solving difficult offshore safety challenges, but before one of our employees introduced us to Dr. Chug, we had never considered problem-solving for the medical field,” says TVO CEO Jim Maher.
“When the opportunity presented itself, we quickly realized that we could apply our team’s ingenuity and creativity to help Dr. Chug transform his concept into a valuable piece of PPE. We are immensely proud of helping to fast-track the development of a solution that could save lives.”
Reducing the risk of exposure
Dr. Chug recognized the need for better protective equipment when he started a rotation in intensive care in March 2020.
Namely, he faced the challenge of providing care in an environment where preventing exposure to the coronavirus is a matter of life and death for compromised patients and potentially for frontline healthcare providers.
“One of the biggest challenges in curbing the spread of this virus is that it is communicable in droplets, but during certain manipulation of the airway (or airway procedures), the virus can be aerosolized, which increases risk of exposure to the healthcare workers,” Chug explains.
“The containment system I wanted to produce would have to provide a physical barrier.”
TVO engineer Luis Mario Rodriguez brought the preliminary design to the company and worked with the engineering team to develop the ViraBox.
“Within three weeks, we were able to move from the original idea through several iterations of prototypes, to a workable solution,” Chug says.
Chug has received multiple request for the ViraBox and has committed to donating two units to a Houston hospital.
TVO is building an additional 10 units to donate them to hospitals in Houston, Detroit, Colorado Springs, and Topeka.