Infection isolation tent humanises treatment for COVID-19

A negative-pressure tent has been designed to give COVID-19 patients a more human experience during treatment in quarantine.

A new airborne infection isolation tent will allow hospitals to scale their response to COVID-19. The low-cost compact tent was designed by a multinational team including Selena Griffith from UNSW Art & Design. It can be erected as a temporary solution to rapidly evolving infectious diseases.

The isolation tent (3m x 3m x 2m) in size, called the Care Cube, has undergone rapid prototyping and evaluation in partnership with OtherLab, an independent research and design lab, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national public health institute, in the US.

Rather than relying on hazmat suits to prevent infection, the cube inverts the model. It has a negative-pressure area for the patient as well as antechambers for the safe entry and exit of medical staff. Focusing on containing the patient allows for the vast majority of caregiver interactions to happen from the outside.

“We wanted to allow for a more human experience for families, patients and carers – hence the name – without compromising the safety and convenience of medical personnel,” Ms Griffith says.

“For patients in quarantine in healthcare settings during COVID-19, the separation from family and the lack of face-to-face contact – even with healthcare personnel – can be very isolating.

“The Care Cube tries to reduce this. Its transparent windows let loved ones see their family members receiving treatment, and a “hug wall,” allows for physical comfort in the form of hugs and hand holding.”

Medical personnel also have protected access to the patient, and the interior of the cube, through the hug wall, making simple medical procedures like checking vitals possible without the need for suit changes. There is also a ventilated Hug Suit with integrated gloves that allows full physical contact with the patient.

The design evolved in response to the Ebola epidemic, where establishing community trust was paramount.

The Care Cube is currently in production in the US and will shortly be released in Australia.

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