In the face of nationwide personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, surgical teams at hospitals across the country, including Anne Arundel Medical Center, have been relying on limited supplies of protective equipment that is effective against COVID-19.
During a Zoom meeting, Severn School senior Regan King overheard her father discussing a Duke University invention that uses custom 3D printed adaptors to convert commonly used surgical helmets to be used for high-level infection protection. To help health care personnel everywhere, Duke developed and tested the concept and then made the code “open source” so that other institutions could have access to the technology for free.
The algorithm uses sophisticated 3D printed adaptors that can be used to retrofit helmets already in use at the hospital. The helmets alone do not provide adequate protection against small particles like viruses during high-risk surgical procedures, but when taken apart and rebuilt with the 3D printed adaptors and advanced filters, they protect health care workers from the viruses that caused COVID-19, Duke testing showed.
King worked with Stephanie Ebersole, coordinator in the Surgical Simulation Center at AAMC, and an expert in 3D printing, who perfected the process of 3D printing the adaptors. Then, after researching and assembling the needed supplies based on the published protocol, King made a workshop in her basement, where she assembled and tested the devices.
“I wanted to help keep my dad and keep the hospital workers safe,” King said. “The job they are doing is so critical right now, and it is of the utmost importance that they have peace of mind while they are saving lives. These adaptors, I hope, can do that for them.”
The modified helmets have now been used routinely in high-risk cases by surgical teams in the operating rooms at AAMC. With uncertainty about access to testing for surgical patients, and fears about a possible resurgence of COVID in the winter months, King has adaptors and supplies available to rapidly increase the number of protective helmets if it becomes necessary.