Dr Lizelle van Wyk and Prof. Pierre Goussard from the Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town, wearing the modified snorkel masks. PHOTO Supplied

Snorkel masks modified to protect doctors from Covid-19

The Doctors are now using modified snorkel masks, to cover the whole face, forming a tight seal while intubating critically ill patients.

DURBAN – Doctors at Tygerberg hospital have come up with an innovative solution to keep their staff safe from the dangers of Covid-19. 

The Doctors are now using modified snorkel masks, to cover the whole face, forming a tight seal while intubating critically ill patients. According to the hospital, the masks have been modified with the addition of a breathing filter where the snorkel would usually be. 

“One of the hospital’s neonatologists and paediatricians, Dr Lizelle van Wyk, is an avid diver and was shown the mask by a diving colleague after Europe had started adapting the mask when the stock of normal N95 respirators became low,”

“She approached both Dr Jack Meintjies, occupational health, and Prof. Pierre Goussard, a paediatric pulmonologist, to modify and approve this mask. Using these full-face modified snorkel masks, the doctors are now completely protected from breathing in the Covid-19 virus whilst performing highly contagious airway procedures,” read the statement from the Western Cape Health Department.

The idea gained traction in Italy after medical shortages forced doctors to improvise. With speedily designed adaptors, full-face snorkelling masks can attach to the hospital’s BiPAP machines used for supplying pressurized air into a patient’s airways. The specially-adapted masks mean doctors can sometimes avoid intubating patients with respiratory problems. With medical supplies in increasingly short supply, the ad-hoc solution can save lives.

 The modified snorkel masks are now routinely used by the paediatricians for intubation and bronchoscopy in children suspected of being Covid-19 positive. The hospital recently acquired 300 SEAC® Libera modified snorkel masks for use by healthcare workers to prevent them from contracting Covid-19 from patients whilst working in highly contagious clinical areas.

 

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