St. Joseph’s Hospital staff designs intubation tent for use with COVID-19 patients

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital were looking for a way to further protect their staff should they need to insert a breathing tube (intubate) into a patient with the COVID-19 virus or suspected of having the virus. They wanted a device that would allow the staff to easily access and visually see the patient, but also prevent the virus from aerosolizing into the room. 

Staff from the Operating Room, Emergency Department, Engineering and Education Department worked together creatively to devise an innovative intubation tent.  

A semi-rigid plastic tubing was formed to attach to the patient’s bed to serve as the support for the tent.  The tent, made of plastic window covering for use in weatherization, was then attached to the tubing and extended to completely cover the patient.  The tent allows staff to easily access and visually see the patient while providing further protection for the staff doing the intubation. 

“This tent is a very innovative and functional way for the healthcare team to care for a COVID-19 patient while also protecting themselves,” said Skip Gjolberg, President of St. Joseph’s Hospital.  “I have seen a number of other hospitals’ attempts, but this is the best system I have seen.” 

“Our goal at St. Joseph’s Hospital is to optimize safety and care for our patients as well as our staff,” said Emergency Medicine Physician Maria Long.  “Our engineering department along with other staff have innovated a top-notch, cost-effective solution that we are proud to utilize.”

Staff practiced doing the intubation utilizing the tent with their SimMan,  a life-size patient simulator designed by Laerdal, for training for a variety of different medical procedures.  The system can now be used with a variety of patients needing intubation including those affected with the COVID-19 virus.

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