When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we knew that we were in a unique position to help. The majority of our medical team practices both in our clinics and in the public sector including hospitals managing the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders that our clinic treats are typically respiratory problems. We knew that with a team of pulmonologists, surgeons, respiratory therapists and many other medical disciplines, the Dorma team was in a unique position to help.
While we have moved to offering our services virtually, our team has also continued to work on the fight against COVID. We’ve joined forces with CCM Hockey to develop personal protection equipment for front line healthcare workers.
What personal protection equipment (PPE) is being used in the fight against COVID-19?
COVID is a respiratory illness which requires a combination of masks, face shields, and other components like surgical gowns to protect healthcare workers. While traditional methods and devices do offer some protection for respiratory viruses, there are gaps in their coverage which means healthcare workers can be exposed. Small particles less than a micron can find their way through protective masks, which can lead to exposure to the virus. In addition to incomplete respiratory filtering, standard masks do not provide protection for other areas of exposure including the eyes.
How did Dorma innovate on PPE for healthcare workers?
Dr René Caissie, president and co-founder at Dorma, is an active member of the surgical service at Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur in Montreal. After spending time in the lab and hospitals he believed there was a better way to provide protection for front line medical workers and started working on a prototype.
In partnership with CCM Hockey and Orkan Industries, we developed a hood prototype device with a goal of minimizing exposure to the virus. After running preliminary tests in a specialized lab ,we quickly realized that our prototype worked. Capnography tests were then performed in the operating room by some of our colleagues, anesthesiologist and intensive care specialist. Those tests demonstrated CO2 build up under the device, which would prevent medical personnel from wearing it more that 15-20 minutes at a time.
To solve this issue, we had to go back to the drawing board. With the help of people at Orkan industries in St-Hubert, we designed a belt type device with a ventilator that provides constant clean air flow. This not only solved the CO2 build-up issue, but created a positive pressure within the hood that made it even more effective in stopping outside particles, including viruses, from entering the protective gear. All components of the additional belt were either available locally or printed from an in-house 3D printer borrowed from our maxillo-facial clinic. It was important that all parts were sourced from Quebec as we could not rely on international suppliers.
The next round of tests showed the protective hood offered an assigned protection factor (APF) of 100. By comparison, N95 masks offer a APF of only 10. We think our solution combines the benefits of mask and face shields with a full-head protective hood, using pressure differential and continuous air flow for added performance.
What are the benefits of a full head device?
The advantage of a full-head device is that it completely encloses the medical personnel head and includes an air-purifying respirator (PAPR). The device provides integrated defense against multiple hazards by combining respiratory, head, eye and face protection, guarding against aerosolized and airborne particulates. It can be worn for many hours at a time which reduces lapses during inter-patient treatment changeover. It also reduces particulates by 99.999%, a 100 order of magnitude improvement over the N95 mask and face shield combination.
Now understanding the improved benefits of a full head protective hood, it was clear to Dr Caissie, and his team at Dorma, that this kind of device needed to be distributed to healthcare workers as soon as possible.
How are CCM Hockey and Orkan helping with the fight against coronavirus?
CCM Hockey and Orkan Industries have worked with Dorma to retool and reconfigure their manufacturing capabilities to produce this new type of PPE. They have been working tirelessly to make adjustments to their manufacturing process and to source all the necessary components from other suppliers and manufacturers across the province. With their partnership, Dorma is now able to produce this protective device at scale, allowing us to increase production and delivery to our healthcare workers
More innovations to help Anesthesiologists, ENTs and Dentists.
Health care professionals working in patient’s upper airways are at a higher risk of contamination. The procedures they perform generate aerosols which are micro droplets containing millions of viral particles. Those particles fill up the room and can circulate even when an adequate ventilation system is present.
With the help of Orkan industries, we decided to build a system that removes particles at the source. The system consists of an articulated arm connected to Orkan’s owns air purifying high volume device. The intake is positioned close to where the procedure is performed and allows for removal of particles. The outtake is then connected to a ventilation dock that gets everything out of the building after passing through a set of HEPA filters.
Three systems like this have been installed so far including in our dental and surgical clinics. A fourth one has been offered to the Hôpital Sacré-Coeur to protect doctors and respiratory therapists when intubating COVID infected patients. We have been in contact with the Ordre des Dentistes du Québec (ODQ) to develop new guidelines that will allow dental offices to offer a broader range of care once the first wave of the epidemic has subside.
What’s next for Dorma?
We will continue to improve our concept and offer our equipment and expertise to health centres and dental offices across Quebec and Canada. CCM and Orkan industries continues to improve production capabilities with the hopes of producing more units which will go directly to the front lines to protect our nations healthcare workers. At Dorma, we continue to work with our partners to try and find innovative solutions to help keep medical professionals safe.
As for the system itself, we believe this innovation will continue to provide safety for healthcare workers and we have decided to open sourced the manufacturing to allow anyone who is able to help increase our collective production capacity to join this race against the clock to protect our health professionals and save our communities. Design specifications will be released on our Dorma website and at CCMhockey.com
We will continue to update our blog as our partnership continues and as we continue to support health professionals in any way we can.