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COVID-19: Local physicians, plastics company develop intubation boxes

Dr. M. Jamil Akhtar, Head Dept. Of Anesthesia, UHNBC with one of the new intubation boxes created in Prince George to help battle COVID-19. Spirit of the North Healthcare photo

Necessity truly is the mother of innovation. This became apparent for an Improvement team at UHNBC comprised of Dr. Jamil Akhtar (Anesthesiologist), Dr. M.J. Slabbert (Intensivist), and Dr. Laura Brough (Emergency Room Physician) have used new research to create a viable way to combat the virus.

The physician team came together across disciplines to collaboratively prepare for COVID-19 and identified endo-tracheal intubation boxes to be used for training, simulation and potentially as a back-up if needed for personal protection equipment. Guidance from the Northern Health Biomed team and support from the Director of Physician Quality helped the physician team to partner with local supplier PG Plastics and create five prototype boxes within the week.

“We are doing our best to be fit to fight back with tools that will protect our staff and health care workers,” said. Akhtar. “We are so pleased that Spirit of the North was willing to provide funding for these units.”

The intubation box was originally devised by Dr. Hsien Yung Lan in Taiwan and has been evaluated globally, including here in North America. This inexpensive, reusable and easily cleanable device could be recreated here in Prince George where five prototypes were designed and manufactured locally. The box works by sitting over the head and shoulders of a patient as they are intubated by a provider. It acts as a protective shield between the patient and medical staff, thereby hopefully minimizing the medical staff’s exposure to COVID-19. The first box arrived today at UHNBC.

“Due to the dedicated and prompt help from our Northern Health partners and Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation, I managed to get the first prototype box built on the same day,” said Akhtar. “We would like to announce the availability of the first prototype intubation box, professionally built and delivered to the hospital already. We have started to use simulation to evaluate the intubation box as a potential back-up tool. Potentially, these boxes can be used with high risk patients.”

“When approached with the opportunity for donors to fund this, naturally we agreed wholeheartedly. It is what our Donors want and have come to expect from us, and we are happy to provide funding on their behalf,” said Judy Neiser, CEO for Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation. “We are ever so grateful for donations that continue to come in during this crisis. They really do make a difference.”

In response to donors’ interests a COVID19-#safeathome Fund has been established for those who want to contribute to the current area of greatest need.

When you donate:

  • Your dollars stay in the community
  • 100% of your gift will be dedicated to funding medical equipment or enhancements to healthcare
  • Your gift qualifies for a charitable tax receipt

For further information please contact the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation Office at 250.565.2515 or to contribute online please go to

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