Allegheny Health Network Ongoing Efforts to Ensure that Frontline Hospital Caregivers Are Protected to Help Prevent Exposure to COVID-19 and Other Infectious Diseases

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) reported today they have partnered with Pittsburgh-based manufacturer Magee Plastics Company to design and equip caregiver teams with protective barrier enclosures that reduce clinical exposure to coughed droplets and aerosols produced during medical procedures on patients. The collaboration between the two organizations is supported by a $150,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The protective barrier enclosure is produced by Magee Plastics and consists of a transparent plastic cube designed to cover a patient’s head while they are in a hospital bed. Used as a physical barrier, the cube incorporates one or more ports through which the health care provider’s hands are passed to perform medical procedures related to airway management such as intubation, extubation, and suctioning of airways, and any aerosol-generating procedures such as nebulizer treatments and manipulation of oxygen masks.

“As part of our pandemic response efforts at AHN, we continue to explore innovative ways to enhance the safety of our practitioners who are caring for patients with COVID-19. In addition to the personal protective equipment worn by our clinicians, this new device has the potential to further minimize exposure to pathogenic airborne particles and provide an additional layer of protection. We are excited to partner with the team at Magee Plastics on the design of the unit, and are extremely grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for its support in helping bring this project to fruition,” said JP Lawrence, MD, Chair, AHN Anesthesiology Institute.

Magee Plastics, a premier provider of quality engineered products for the airline, rail, medical and other industries, will produce a total of 350 protective barrier enclosures – 200 of which will be distributed to AHN facilities and 150 to other regional health care facilities over the next several weeks.

Protective barrier enclosures have been approved by the FDA for emergency use following the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services’ declaration in early March that the shortage of medical equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic warranted authorization for emergency use of alternative medical devices and products.

Similar to the experience of many organizations and companies across the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered daily operations at Magee Plastics. Magee president Charles Story said the company’s commitment to the community and its employees made the decision to repurpose their operations to meet a critical need of our health care providers an easy one.

“Our region’s health care workers have answered the call of this pandemic without hesitation and in heroic fashion.  We are delighted to be able to support them through this unique collaboration, which has also enabled us to keep many of our employees working during this unprecedented time,” said Mr. Story.

“The Foundation supported this project because it advances two of our key priorities in this pandemic – protecting our frontline healthcare workers, and protecting jobs,” said Sam Reiman, Director, Richard King Mellon Foundation.

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