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New face shield prototype hopes to replace goggles and ease health workers’ pain

The prototype is made with a clear plastic shield supported by a spectacle frame, an elastic band or a strip of Velcro.

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Singapore – A new version of the protective goggles has been created to help ease the pressure and pain that healthcare professionals face when working at the frontline for extended periods.

Senior consultant and clinical director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), Dr Shawn Vasoo has created a face shield prototype in hopes of replacing the current version of protective goggles which is quite uncomfortable to wear, reported The Straits Times.

According to Ms Lin Ying, 38, in her 16 years on the job as a nurse at the NCID, the “goggles and masks, after prolonged use, put pressure on the nose bridge and can cause pain.” The veteran added that the lenses also tend to fog up, which reduce visibility for the user and could even lead to cases of giddiness.

Treating patients diagnosed with various infectious diseases, including the most recent Covid-19, means healthcare workers are continually wearing protective gear to ensure their safety at work. “We are discouraged from taking off the goggles until we leave the patient’s room. Even if the fogging is very bad, you just have to bear with it,” shared Ms Lin.

In response to the increasing necessity of a better alternative, Dr Vasoo, together with staff from the Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) produced a new face shield using 3D-printing technology.

The prototype was designed after a previous version of face shields was used during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003. It is made with a clear plastic shield supported by a spectacle frame, an elastic band or a strip of Velcro. The design is less constricting compared to the goggles yet still protects the wearer during high-risk procedures.

“When people are uncomfortable with the equipment they use, they start adjusting it, which might lead to contamination, and pose a certain risk to the healthcare worker,” said Dr Vasoo. “During the Sars period, we lost some healthcare colleagues. There were a number who passed away,” he added. “So we take staff safety very seriously.”

It is the goal of the prototypes to diversify the source of personal protective equipment (PPE) given that the current visors, which is used as an alternative to the goggles, are imported. To limit the chances of a shortage in supply of PPE, some must be produced in-house.

“With this outbreak, it is quite apparent that all these personal protective equipment are in demand worldwide,” Dr Vasoo noted. “We want to make sure that we diversify our options. Having more options is always good,” he added.

The prototypes were revealed to the media at the Centre for Healthcare Innovation’s Living Lab on February 13, Thursday and are expected to be pilot tested in three stations within the hospital starting February 21.

Facebook power-user and CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching, shared the news of the prototypes and added the importance of heightened protection for healthcare workers in a facility capable of containing infectious diseases.

For Covid-19, the risk of droplets or aerosol formation requires work to be done in a biosafety level 2 facility with a level 2 biosafety cabinet, said Ms Ho. “In SG, we have up to BSL 3 facilities, with possibly BSL3+ biosafety cabinets,” she added.

The highest BSL is level 4, which countries like Germany and the United States have, to address the most dangerous pathogens like Ebola, shared Ms Ho.

Under the USA CDV guidelines for handling virus samples is for staff to shield the eyes and face, either with goggles…

Posted by HO Ching on Thursday, 13 February 2020

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