Irish team launches website to help hospitals source vital equipment

26 Mar 2020981 Views

Image: © Yakobchuk Olena/Stock.adobe.com

To help hospitals and medical staff facing a shortage of vital medical equipment, Irish researchers have created a website to pool donations across the world.

A new website called CovidMedSupply has been created by researchers from NUI Galway and the University of Limerick (UL) to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment (PPE).

PPE comes in many different forms, but typically includes equipment vital in hospitals and medical centres, such as gloves, gowns, goggles and face masks. Using the new site, those with supplies of PPE can flag their location and inventory on a map.

If there is a surge in cases of Covid-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – then a hospital or clinic across the world can see what emergency PPE stock is in the vicinity and access it quickly.

The website was created by Prof Derek O’Keeffe, a consultant physician at University Hospital Galway and a professor of medical device technology at NUI Galway, along with Dr Kevin Johnson of UL.

‘Everybody has a role to play in this fight’

Speaking of the initiative, O’Keeffe said: “Speaking with my clinical colleagues across the world and looking at the repeating patterns of health supply logistics breakdowns that have occurred as Covid-19 surges have swept across the world, it is clear that innovative alternative solutions need to be developed such as CovidMedSupply to enable frontline staff get vital PPE to keep them and their patients safe.”

Johnson added that “everybody has a role to play in this fight against the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Support Silicon Republic

“That could be simply to self-isolate, use your skillset to create a website such as [CovidMedSupply] or donate any surplus supplies you might have to this worthy cause. With so much technology at our fingertips, why not use it for the good of your community,” he said.

This latest idea follows other Irish academics who have helped pool their resources during a time of global crisis.

Neuroscientist Dr James Reynolds set up a website called Irish Scientists on Call with a number of other researchers to highlight opportunities where scientists could offer their expertise. The site includes a call for doctors, nurses, engineers and designers to join the Open Source Ventilator project to help develop low-cost ventilators.

Speaking of Irish academia’s efforts to tackle the pandemic, O’Keeffe said: “We live in extraordinary times. Ireland has shown tremendous global leadership and innovation both in Government and the health service.

“Furthermore, the Irish academic community has been outstanding in offering to help the clinical frontline through developing novel solutions to fight this Covid-19 pandemic.”

Updated, 11.49am, 26 March 2020: This article was updated with additional comments from Prof Derek O’Keeffe. 

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com