Published on April 10, 2020

Hospital Staff Devises Protective Device During Pandemic

west point staff with croup tentNorth Mississippi Medical Center-West Point’s Facility Operations team has come through for the hospital’s front-line employees by creating a device to protect them and the hospital’s sickest patients.

A few weeks ago, Respiratory Therapy Director Georgia Williams learned that her cohorts at NMMC-Tupelo had begun using croup tents when caring for patients on a ventilator. A croup tent encloses the patient in thin, flexible plastic and oxygen or regular air is blown in the tent. These tents are traditionally used for patients with croup, an upper airway infection that obstructs breathing and causes a barking cough.

The Tupelo respiratory therapists were using croup tents without the blown air to provide a protective barrier between patients and staff members during high risk procedures.

Williams asked Facility Operations Director Howard Rumore, who reported that the hospital didn’t have any, so she asked him if they could possibly make some. Rumore and Keith White put their heads together and soon built a prototype using PVC pipe, lead weights and plastic sheeting. Williams was so pleased with the tent that she requested three more.

The staff can use the tents on a patient in bed or on a stretcher. “We put weights in the legs so that the frame would stay in place. The plastic bag is actually an equipment cover, but it fit just right,” Rumore said. “We fixed it so that the legs are not glued. That way it’s easily disassembled for storage.”

“This was truly a collaborative effort,” Williams said. “Once we confirmed our facility had none, we began to look for a way to provide the much-needed additional safety measure.”

respiratory therapist with croup tentWord of the ingenious tents spread quickly. Jason Lea, NMMC-Tupelo director of Facility Operations, reached out to Rumore for details. “We sent them our schematic drawings and a parts list,” Rumore said. “Then his staff started mass-producing the tents for all our affiliate hospitals.”

Lea said his staff built 25 tents for Respiratory Therapy Departments in Tupelo, Amory, Iuka, Eupora and Pontotoc, Miss., and Hamilton, Ala. “We also modified four of the units based upon feedback from staff and physicians,” Lea said. “We increased the height to provide easier access.”

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