Cork GP develops novel 'healthcare barrier' to reduce PPE waste

Cork GP develops novel 'healthcare barrier' to reduce PPE waste
Image Source Nick Flynn

A Cork GP has collaborated with engineers, industrial hygienists, and local manufacturers and installers to develop a novel ‘healthcare barrier’ which he believes could significantly help reduce PPE waste.

Dr Nick Flynn said that during the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak they tried to re-model how they were providing care and began using PPE to protect patients and staff.

However, he said the costs involved and the waste generated was significant.

“In our own practice we made a significant investment in that [PPE], we spent over €10,000 buying PPE,” Dr Flynn explained.

He had been trying to come up with a better solution when, by chance, he heard an interview with a man named Justin Mason Home, who was also looking at his area, and soon a collaboration between individuals in Cork, Manchester and San Francisco was born.

Image Source Nick Flynn
Image Source Nick Flynn

The group consulted over zoom calls and developed a prototype which was then manufactured by Michael Murphy and the team at ILC Dover in Blarney and fitted by Sidney McElhinney from Unique Fitout.

All of the work was done pro bono.

The barrier is now in place at Dr Flynn’s Douglas surgery and allows healthcare professionals to undertake physical examinations and swabbing of patients through a transparent barrier, reducing the need for the healthcare professional to have to use as much PPE.

“It’s a reusable, low tech, low cost, environmentally friendly PPE that is very effective, very user friendly,” Dr Flynn said.

“Patient feedback has been very positive. Patients feel protected. They appreciate that this is there for their safety,” he added.

The GP utilised the barrier to swab 21 people who hope to travel on the Belfast or Blind bus this weekend to undergo cataract procedures.

Last week a nurse had to be sent from Belfast to West Cork to carry out the swabs on the patients traveling. 

Dr Flynn said: “That was a real seminal moment to see those patients and give them a needed medical service that facilitated them.”

Dr Flynn said he has shown the prototype to an individual from the HSE and said he would like to see it adopted elsewhere.

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