Teams at the University of Bath are helping staff at the Royal United Hospitals Bath combat coronavirus by offering support including fabricating personal protection equipment.
A total of 250 face shields, produced within the Faculty of Engineering & Design, have been delivered to the hospital’s emergency department and medical assessment unit in the past three days. The face shields are designed to protect medical staff and cut the transmission of the virus during patient appointments.
Reverse-engineered to mirror the hospital’s existing stock, the face shields are made from foam and hand-cut acetate sheets.
While the effort to design and test the face shields has involved several staff from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, they have been put together at the University by one member of staff working alone. The team plans to keep manufacturing the face shields in the coming weeks.
James Scott, Chief Executive of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re really grateful to the University of Bath for their expertise and this generous offer, which will help our teams to care for our patients and staff and keep them safe.
“We work closely with the University, particularly on research projects, and this is a great example of our continued collaboration.”
Dr Alexander Lunt, who is part of the team, said: “We’re hugely grateful for the incredible efforts staff at the RUH are putting in, so we’re pleased to be able to help. The expertise within the faculty means we’ve able to produce the face shields quickly and relatively simply.
“We’d also like to thank Foam Cutting and Design, who are a Bristol-based business, for supplying the foam parts.”
Volunteers or businesses who are able to help make more face shields, and who have supplies to do so, can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The face shields are one part of the support being offered by a large number of staff from across the University.
Mechanical Engineering experts are also collaborating with the hospital with the aim of doubling the capacity of critical ventilators. They are carrying out computer modelling to understand how one ventilator could be safely used between two patients.
A third project team has also designed and manufactured perspex enclosures for equipment trolleys to save time spent cleaning them between patient assessments.
The three projects have been supported by a £5,000 grant from the University’s Alumni Fund.
The University’s Departments of Chemistry and Biology & Biochemistry have also donated a range of its personal protection equipment including gloves, face masks and safety glasses.
Bath’s Institute of Coding has also loaned servers, that were to be used in Cyber Security teaching, to the RUH to support hospital staff working from home.
Professor Richie Gill, who has been overseeing the partnership work within the Faculty of Engineering & Design, said: “We have over 25 people working on these projects. I’d like to acknowledge their efforts and thank all of them for working around the clock to help.”