There’s a new tool for hospitals in the fight against the coronavirus, and it was invented in Acadiana. The “Nurse Saver” is designed to protect healthcare workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Douglas Clement, of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and engineer Erick Knezeck, both of Lafayette, invented this new device. They received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, in order to make it and get it into hospitals. The device could be a game changer in the pandemic.

“Right now, all the hospitals in the region are running short on beds. They’re also running short on nursing and staffing because some of these nurses are getting sick,” said Dr. Clement.

The device is based on a design they saw on facebook from doctors in southeast Asia. It’s a self contained negative pressure hood for COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized.

“The “Nurse Saver” can help give an extra layer of protection when we’re intubating or caring for an intubated patient. It makes sure our ICU doctors and nurses are well protected, an extra layer. It’s the opportunity not to lose that staff and protect our people,” said Dr. Clement.

Here’s how it works. The hood is placed over the patient’s head. It’s connected to the hospital’s air system. Fresh air goes in. The contaminated air from the patient is filtered out.

“We’ve designed the box so that air is sucked into the box and out through a suction hose. The contaminated air from the patient’s inside goes into the hospital’s suction system and filtered through the normal HEPA type filtering system,” said Knezeck.

Here’s the game changer. This new device has the potential to allow visitors to visit COVID-19 patients still in the hospital.

“One of the most tragic stories I’ve heard is that — I’m going to the hospital. I don’t feel good. — 30, 60, 90 days later your loved one you haven’t seen is passed on. It could change things, especially in the future, to allow people to see their loved ones while they’re being treated with a disease like this that’s highly contagious,” said Knezeck.

The “Nurse Saver” could also be used in operating rooms for patients requiring surgery, and whose COVID-19 status is positive or unknown. So, routine surgeries could resume.
There are four prototypes being used right now at Lafayette General. The team says the devices are working and they have received positive feedback.