MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  A new M Health Fairview innovation is saving critical supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and will help drive a much-needed increase in testing capacity for COVID-19 in the state.

(credit: M Health Fairview)

The glass testing box — resembling a phone booth — allows health care professionals to safely swab patients for COVID-19 without cycling through valuable supplies of protective gowns.

“It’s unreal how much PPE we’re saving,” says Dana Seeker, a medical assistant at M Health Fairview Clinic – Bloomington Oxboro. “In the past, if I saw 90 patients in a day, that’d be 90 gowns and 180 gloves.”

M Health Fairview says the booths will improve testing efficiencies making it possible to double testing capacity at clinics that have them. Twelve booths will soon be spread across M Health Fairview’s eight testing sites.

Here’s how the booth works:

  • A fan pushes air through a HEPA filter and into the booth, creating a positive-pressure environment that repels outside particulates.
  • A pair of gloves extends from the front giving the provider the ability to operate in close contact with the patient without wearing a gown or mask.
  • The patient side of the booth is cleaned between uses.

“Once you’re in there and can work without all of the gear on, it’s pretty awesome,” Seeker says. “It’s going to make testing so much easier going forward. It’s safe for us medical assistants who are swabbing, it’s safe for the patients, and it’s saving so much with the equipment.”

M Health Fairview partnered with the machine shop in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, reflecting a shared vision to improve the health of Minnesotans and ramp up COVID-19 testing statewide.

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