Clinpath and ThincLab collaboration: Innovative solutions to protect our workforces during COVID-19
Like any business in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clinpath Pathology has had to transform itself. In doing so, it has turned to those organisations who can provide agile solutions with quick turnaround timeframes to ensure their ongoing success.
Brooke Kenny, Clinpath Pathology’s Pre Analytics Manager, says, “Our staff at Clinpath have a focus of keeping patients safe, encouraging them to maintain their health and helping them choose the most appropriate way for them to have their pathology test completed. In this climate, the company ethos has been to remain flexible and approachable and support whenever we can.”
With their main Clinpath laboratory being transformed during this time to now accept COVID-19 testing, Clinpath say they took to market to purchase appropriate PPE for their staff, and in turn researched and established what they could source from their local suppliers that would in turn support the broader community in the process.
While there has been a known shortage in some areas of PPE procurement, Clinpath's research for face shields landed them at the door step of The University of Adelaide’s own ThincLab.
ThincLab have been coming up with new ideas since its launch and is known as the place where unconventional thinkers can give their ideas an unfair advantage. It’s home to creative thinkers, the rule-breakers, the challengers. The ones who see the world differently, and for whom ideas are everything and the future is unlimited. A perfect focus in this changing daily, unprecented global landscape.
Zrinka Tokic, Director ThincLab, says, “Even in these times of isolation, ThincLab is still actively collaborating with industry to develop innovative solutions to problems we are facing. We are proud to be able to offer support and services to start ups and industry through this challenging time as it is proving to be a catalyst for insightful and agile solutions.”
Morgan Hunter, TechLab Manager, Adelaide University ThincLab, says, “A number of different organisations have asked to test face shields in the common marketplace which they could produce to meet the need in South Australia. Many of these designs come from the US or Europe. The main issue with all of them was the screen had to be custom-made which increased the cost and overall safety of the PPE and some of the feedback from the professionals (doctors) was they needed more space between the shield and your eyes so they could use their special glasses and to prevent fogging. “
Led by our Infectious Diseases Laboratory Director, Dr Jhumur Roy, Clinpath Pathology has been responsible for the laboratory diagnosis of bacterial, viral, parasitic and fungal diseases for many years now, and takes an active role in the clinical sector.
From outbreak, Dr Roy has overseen Clinpath’s response to staff PPE requirements.
Dr Roy says, “While hygiene practices in relation to viruses are second nature to those who work within the Infectious Diseases laboratory and pathology industry, these are unique times with added precautions to be cognisant of. There has been much misinformation in the wider community in relation to what should and shouldn’t be worn and initially it sent conflicting messages to our staff and respective clients and their patients. This solution should provide comfort as much as the needed protection while collecting COVID-19 samples.”
The ThincLab face shield sits comfortably over the face and allows the end user to quickly and cheaply replace the shield part when required. This may be for cleaning purposes or due to surface scratches on the plastic.
Morgan says of the face shield solution, “We evaluated all face shield designs and picked the things we liked most and then incorporated our thoughts into the one design. It was at this point Clinpath contacted and we agreed a price, and they are now taking delivery of these very improved face shield designs.”
The other design feature is the strap. While other designs in the marketplace have used an expensive hook or clamp on your head, ThincLab went with an elastic strap which you can easily buy at any local sewing shop. ThincLab weave the strap onto the frame which makes it adjustable for any head size and pressure. ThincLab then incorporated a solid top shield in the frame so it prevents pathogens for coming from the top.
From Clinpath’s perspective, this made the mask more adaptable and replaceable.
A perfect locally produced solution for unprecented times.