Hospital bed canopy could help protect healthcare staff treating Covid-19

21 Apr 2020

Image: © Halfpoint/

To help protect frontline healthcare staff treating Covid-19 patients, researchers have designed a new protective bed canopy.

Researchers have designed a constant flow canopy to help protect healthcare workers who are at risk of airborne Covid-19 infection while providing non-invasive ventilation or oxygen via high-flow nasal canula (HFNC).

Ventilatory support with HNFC is used to treat people with respiratory failure, as is seen among those with severe cases of Covid-19. It helps patients with breathing difficulties to breathe by pushing pressured air into the lungs via a mask covering the mouth or nose.

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However, while helping alleviate the need for invasive medical ventilators, there are concerns that healthcare workers are at risk of Covid-19 infection.

In a letter published to the European Respiratory Journal, Prof Yochai Adir from the Lady Davis Carmel Medical Centre Pulmonary Division in Israel wrote: “The current crisis has resulted in a shortage of access to negative pressure facilities and invasive mechanical ventilators.

“This means we must adapt, so that we can continue to treat patients as best we can while protecting the health and safety of healthcare workers.”

The new canopy forms an air chamber that covers the upper part of the patient’s body. This is connected to a system that cleans the air and a fan that creates negative pressure to pull the filtered air into the open air.

The canopy system installed over two hospital beds.

The flexible plastic canopy forms an air chamber that covers the upper part of the patient’s body, which is connected to the filtration system that cleans the air and pushes it back out. Image: Prof Yochai Adir

Used by four patients at a time

The system is designed so that it can be used by four patients at a time, and the researchers said that it has been tested to international standards and does not allow fluid or particles to pass through it.

“We installed this cost-effective system within our hospital and found it supports the delivery of non-invasive ventilatory support with minimal risk of infection for the medical staff,” Adir said.

“It enables alternatives to mechanical ventilation for patients with moderate to severe coronavirus infection, who may otherwise go untreated because of a shortage of equipment.”

Raising some potential shortcomings, the researchers said that it may create a physical barrier between the patient and medical staff, making administering treatment difficult. They added that the canopy system might be difficult to install in small treatment rooms.

Similar efforts to provide new solutions to overstretched healthcare workers have been developed across the world. A team based in Galway developed a system that allows for two patients to use one ventilator in a shortage scenario.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic