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Engineering

Ventilated headboards

Hospital patients with Covid-19 can contaminate the room air and surfaces with the virus. Healthcare workers have had to rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) to try to protect themselves from being infected. One alternative way to reduce the risks for workers is to use a ventilated headboard on the bed.

Ventilated headboard
The prototype ventilated headboard

These headboards are designed to extract air contaminated with Corona virus from behind the patients head. The air is passed through a high efficiency filter before being discharged. The original design was published by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health nearly ten years ago, but the system has still not been commercialised. However, the researchers provided a set of DIY instruction to build the system.

The researchers list a number of advantages for their design, including:

  • Proven design that successfully captured and removed over 99% of airborne infectious-sized aerosol in a laboratory test
  • Cost-effective system, where the cost per isolated patient is much less than traditional airborne infection isolation rooms
  • Healthcare workers operate outside the “hot zone” of infectious aerosol
  • Easy patient access
  • Scalable from one to many units
  • Highly adaptable to fit most sizes of hospital beds
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Easily dismantled for storage

Watch a short video about the system on YouTube.

While the researchers demonstrated the system has a very high effectiveness we believe that it is unlikely to achieve such performance in real healthcare situations. It seems more realistic to assume that a ventilated headboard could reduce SARS-CoV-2 aerosol emissions from an infected patient in hospital by around 90%

References

Dungi S, Ghia U, Mead K, Gressel M. (2015) Effectiveness of a Local Ventilation/Filtration Intervention for Health-Care Worker Exposure Reduction to Airborne Infection in a Hospital Room. Published by ASHRAE.

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