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Positive Pressure Testing Booth Protects Frontline Medical Workers

With ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth, medical staff can take samples without wearing a full set of protective clothing.

With ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth, medical staff can take samples without wearing a full set of protective clothing.

To protect medical workers who administer screening tests for COVID-19 patients, ITRI developed a positive pressure testing booth in conjunction with National Taiwan University Hospital Hsinchu Biomedical Park Branch, Mackay Memorial Hospital Hsinchu Branch and some doctors’ input. Performing coronavirus tests with this testing booth, medical staff no longer need to wear any special equipment other than masks and normal lab gowns. The booths are now in field tests in the abovementioned hospitals.

The structure of ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth. The structure of ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth.

The structure of ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth.

ITRI’s testing booth features five unique characteristics. First is its safe design, which employs a special positive pressure technology that only allows air to move from inside to outside. Contaminated air is unable to enter the booth, thus alleviating exposure risks to medical workers taking samples.

The second is its high sample collection rate. The booth has two sides, enabling samples from at least 12 individuals to be collected each hour. In urgent situations, samples can be collected from 240 people daily, offering greater testing capacity than the average 70 samples collected daily from booths in South Korea.

Thirdly, the booths conserve energy and are comfortable for medical workers staying inside, with each booth fitted with an air-conditioner, creating a comfortable and dry environment. The smart energy-saving technology reduces daily electricity costs to less than NT$60.

The fourth is that these booths are independent and ultra-clean. The phone booth-style design isolates itself from possible infection sources. Moreover, the booths feature a Class 1000 level of cleanliness, which is even higher than operating rooms in hospitals, making them among the cleanest testing booths in the world.

Lastly, the testing booth offers quick assembling possibility. It can be assembled in just two days, thereby offering rapid deployment and making it suited to be constructed at border points for virus testing.

According to Dr. Ren-Chain (Joseph) Wang, ITRI’s Vice President and General Director of Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, the Positive Pressure Testing Booth addresses three key issues raised by clinical physicians and medical experts: the high consumption or lack of PPE, the inconvenience of wearing protective clothing and working outdoors, and the high risk of infection. If the booth design did not feature positive pressure, medical workers collecting samples would have to spend 20-30 minutes putting on a full set of protective clothing, which is costly and stifling.

Mackay Memorial Hospital’s Dr. YuChi Jason Tseng said that one could get soaked just 20 minutes after putting on the gear, creating a nightmare for medical staff. Therefore, ITRI’s positive pressure testing booth saves time and costs while increasing convenience in performing coronavirus tests.

In the future, ITRI will offer an integrated one-stop solution that enables sampling and testing to be completed within 70 minutes. The construction of a positive pressure testing booth requires system components from multiple disciplines, most of which can be sourced from local supply chains. Should other nations have a demand for these booths, ITRI will work together with industry in integrating various technologies and exporting the results.

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