UTPB engineers develop COVID-19 testing booths for local hospitals

Published: Apr. 8, 2020 at 7:19 PM CDT
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The UT-Permian Basin Engineering department has found a way to help keep local health care workers safe, even while interacting with patients.

Dr. George Nnanna and his team have developed a clear, rectangular COVID-19 testing booth.

“One of the unique features of our design is a convex shape,” Nnanna said. “That will enable the healthcare worker to lean forward and to see the mouth of the patient, and then take a swab.”

The enclosure has medical gloves that workers will put their arms through, similar to booths being used in South Korea.

However, unlike those, Nnanna said local workers likely won’t even need protective outfits or masks, saving the hospitals’ limited amounts of PPE.

“After each patient it will then be sanitized for the next individual,” Nnanna said.

Nnanna is grateful for the help he received on the project from other faculty, and students like Dean Lizzotte.

“To be able to transfer the material we presented him in the classroom into reality,” Nnanna said, “And not only to engineer a system, but also to engineer a system that is capable of helping the community.”

The building process for one of these booths only takes a few days, according to Nnanna

“We have one that we’re going to deliver to [Medical Center Hospital] Odessa,” Nnanna said. “Then we also have requests from Midland. So we will be making these and delivering them to regional hospitals.”

Nnanna said the enclosure for MCH could be delivered as soon as Thursday.