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IIT Ropar researchers design special doffing unit for healthcare workers

The move by the researchers comes after the Union government urged the IIT to come out with the design of a special doffing unit to save the health workers.

Published: 21st April 2020 04:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st April 2020 04:32 PM   |  A+A-

Doctors wearing protective suits before they start collecting swab from people, who are under home quarantine to test for COVID-19

For representational purposes

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: The Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, has designed a special Doffing Unit by separating it from the donning or cleanroom so that the doctors and other health care workers can safely remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, masks and gloves there without catching the virus.

A team of researchers of the IIT - Dr Khushboo Rakha, Assistant Professor, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Dr Dhiraj Mahajan, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Prof Naresh Rakha, senior scientific officer - have designed this special doffing unit.

The move by the researchers comes after the Union government urged the IIT to come out with the design of a special doffing unit to save the health workers.

The unit involves the use of three well established and documented germicidal technologies: chemical disinfectants, negative pressure rooms and UVGI. The unit begins with a disinfection tunnel using a safe and effective disinfectant recommended by the WHO. It will also be maintaining a negative pressure outlet which will significantly lower the risk of virus transmission through the air and also has UVGI treatment facility, (Ultra-violet Germicidal Irradiation), to sanitize the space when idle.

"After doffing and removal of PPE (through the prescribed procedure), the healthcare worker should place the PPE in one of the two chutes for reuse or proper disposal. Both the chutes will be attached with UVC germicidal tubes for disinfection before further removal. The unit will be maintaining negative pressure outlet which will significantly lower the risk of virus transmission through air." Dr Khushboo Rakha, Assistant Professor in the department of metallurgical and materials engineering said.

"UV-C type germicidal bulbs or tubes will be installed in the entire space to disinfect the room after every doffing session or alternatively every two to three hours. No person will be allowed inside the station during UV-C disinfection session.  We have also recommended the use of copper or brass  to be used for doorknobs and handles and taps in this chamber because of its anti-microbial properties," she said.

She further said: "Also to perform regular hand hygiene between the doffing procedures a chart of the doffing procedure will be pasted in this room. Proper training on PPE donning and doffing procedures is a must."

"It is imperative to sterilize and maintain sterile conditions in the doffing station, the place where health care professionals remove their PPE at the end of procedure or duty. The doctors and health care workers spend a lot of time up close with the patients doing high-risk activities like placing patients on ventilators or collecting and handling samples. Personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, and gowns, help keep nurses and doctors safe.

"These have to be fitted, worn, and removed in a specific way and in the past it has been reported that healthcare workers have made accidental mistakes in wearing or removing their PPE. This may expose them to pathogens. It is imperative to sterilize and maintain sterile conditions in the doffing station, the place where health care professionals remove their PPE at the end of their duty," said Prof Naresh Rakha, Senior Scientific Officer.

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