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Scripps Health Creates Booth To Ensure Staff Safety During Mass Testing

Jessica Malley, infusion room supervisor at Scripps Green Hospital, conducts ...

Credit: Scripps Health

Above: Jessica Malley, infusion room supervisor at Scripps Green Hospital, conducts a test while standing in the plexiglass booth at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, May 4, 2020.

A local hospital system is taking an innovative yet simple approach to staff safety during the pandemic. Scripps Health engineered a nearly 7-foot-tall plexiglass booth that gives employees protection and has armholes for them to reach through and swab a patient.

The process to test for coronavirus can expose health care workers because patients may sneeze or cough from the procedure but masks, gloves and gowns, known as personal protective equipment or PPE, are in limited supply. Scripps’ enclosure provides an additional defense and reduces how frequently staff must change their PPE.

Chief Medical Officer of Clinical Excellence and Experience Dr. Ghazala Sharieff said development of the booth, which was inspired by similar products in Boston and overseas, was driven by ensuring staff felt safe but it also helps conserve protective coverings.

“We don't have to change our isolation gown every single time. Isolation gown (supplies) are very low right now,” Sharieff said.

Reported by Tarryn Mento , Video by Roland Lizarondo

The testing compartment also eliminates the need for a face shield, but clinicians still need to regularly change their gloves, which are in limited supply as well.

Sharieff, who also holds a master's in business administration, said Scripps tested the booth at patient triage areas and for testing lines of staff members and determined it could be most effective during mass testing.

RELATED: Scripps, Sharp Seek Federal Help For South County Health Facilities

“It expedites the process as well and is keeping our staff safe, so I think that's going to be the role for this more than just random emergency department visits,” she said.

Scripps is still limiting testing to symptomatic and pre-operative patients because reagents and swabs are difficult to find, but Sharieff said she hopes to eventually use the booth for more widespread testing.

“When we have more reagents and we want to do more testing for the county to help the county — the county is trying to get as many people in as possible for their prevalence numbers — we can be a part of that as well,” she said.

Scripps plans to share lessons learned from developing the booth in case other facilities want to explore a similar idea.

The prototype developed in-house by the Scripps biomed team cost around $2,000 but the staff has since learned some elements aren’t necessary, such as a door on the back of the box. Scripps has been contacted by outside vendors that say they can reproduce the booth for a few hundred dollars but the hospital isn't working with any company.

The Scripps biomed staff is also creating a smaller version of the booth to protect health care workers during the high-risk procedure of inserting a tube into a COVID-19 patient’s airway.

Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

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Photo of Tarryn Mento

Tarryn Mento
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksThe health beat is about more than just illness, medicine and hospitals. I examine what impacts the wellness of humans and their communities.

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