With the ongoing PPE shortage in hospitals, doctors at Tygerberg Hospital, the Western Cape's largest hospital, found an unusual yet innovative way to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Thanks to an unlikely crossover between creativity, diving equipment and a desperate need to stay healthy - doctors and nurses now have access to modified snorkel masks to stay safe while intubating critically ill patients.
“These masks cover the whole face, forming a tight seal and are usually used for snorkelling in tropical waters,” the hospital said.
“They have been modified with the addition of a breathing filter where the snorkel would usually be. Using these full-face modified snorkel masks, the doctors are now completely protected from breathing in the COVID-19 virus whilst performing highly contagious airway procedures.”
The idea can be traced back to Europe when engineers after hospitals ran out personal protective equipment at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tygerberg Hospital’s neonatologist and paediatrician, Dr Lizelle van Wyk, bought into the idea when she heard about it.
Van Wyk, who is also an avid diver, approached her colleagues Dr Jack Meintjies and Professor Pierre Goussard with the idea and to modify and approve this mask.
“The modified snorkel masks are now routinely used by the paediatricians for intubation and bronchoscopy in children suspected of being COVID-19 positive,” the hospital said.