Taiwan-designed intubation protection device in demand in Indonesia

JAKARTA (CNA) — An acrylic box designed by a Taiwanese doctor to protect doctors incubating novel coronavirus patients has gained a following in Indonesia with the help of a cosmetics company.

Jakarta is currently under a state of emergency to try to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which had left 198 people dead across the country as of Sunday, and Indonesian skin care and cosmetics brand By Lizzie Parra (BLP Beauty) decided to get involved.

“BLP Beauty had been trying to do something about this virus in Indonesia,” CEO Monica Christa told CNA in a recent interview.

After learning that many medical workers in Indonesia were infected with the virus, the company consulted with local doctors about their needs and how it could help.

It settled on bringing the idea of Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇), an anesthesiologist with Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, to the country by having its display box supplier produce the so-called “Aerosol Box.”

The box, designed to keep a patient’s fine respiratory particles known as aerosols away from doctors while the patient is being intubated, turned out to be the best option because there were no suppliers of such devices in Indonesia, Christa said.

The display box supplier first made a prototype for doctors to approve. After they gave the go-ahead, though asking for a few alterations, the supplier began producing it in bulk.

“We have created around 500 boxes to be distributed to hospitals around Greater Jakarta,” Christa said, with 100 of them already delivered on April 3.

“Making the Aerosol Box is actually very new to our suppliers,” but “they are very eager and excited to make the boxes because it is for a good cause,” she said.

A key condition of Lai in sharing the design worldwide on Facebook last month was that it not be used for commercial purposes. In that spirit, the units are being given to the roughly 200 hospitals that have requested them so far for free.

The first 250 boxes were funded by Christa’s company through BLP Givesback, BLP Beauty’s social corporate responsibility program.

A crowdfunding campaign was then launched and raised about 100 million rupiah (NT$184,000, or US$6,080) to make the next batch of 250 units.

The fundraising initiative will continue until April 17 to raise funds for additional demand, which has totaled 900 units to date, according to Christa.

Lai’s “Aerosol Box” is a transparent cube made of acrylic that covers a patient’s head during endotracheal intubation, a necessary procedure for patients with COVID-19 who suffer respiratory failure.

It has two holes on one side through which physicians can insert their arms to perform the procedure while being shielded from the patient’s respiratory droplets and aerosol.

The Indonesian version has been altered to accommodate the different doctors working on the front lines, said Christo Ekapatria, a physician at Siloam Hospitals in Tangerang who helped evaluate the box for local use.

The circular cutouts of 10 centimeters in diameter were made larger to accommodate bigger doctors, and a third hole was added to one side of the box so that it can be used for intubation during surgeries.

“Doctors need a hole to insert a cable or oxygen tube,” Christo said. “If the tube enters from the same holes, it will disturb doctors’ maneuvers.”

Designed as a makeshift response in an emergency when protective gear for medical professionals is lacking, the device has come in handy as more patients need to be intubated as the pandemic spreads and N95 masks are depleted.

“When the first wave of COVID-19 came to Indonesia, we weren’t ready, just like other countries. So everybody was panicking. When we asked for hazmat, gowns, [they were] nowhere to be found. So sometimes we use raincoats, surgical masks. It’s also hard to find the masks,” Christo said.

“Now it’s easier for us to have gear to protect us.”

At least 17 doctors have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

Christa, the BLP CEO expressed her gratitude to Lai for inventing the simple yet effective box to prevent the transmission of the virus.

“I also want to encourage people to donate through every channel possible. Together we can fight this virus and we can be a stronger and better population,” she said.