Mini-tents protect staff from COVID-19
April 28, 2021
TORONTO – MACH32, an Edmonton company, announced that their Aerosol Containment Tent is now being used by the University Health Network, which includes Toronto General Hospital. The tent-like device goes over a patient’s shoulders and head and removes potentially infectious aerosols in less than nine seconds through a pump and filter.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets of various sizes, including the tiny aerosols contained in the breath. The tent is intended to provide additional protection to healthcare workers who can’t avoid being in close confined spaces with infectious patients.
The company co-chief executive, Marc Curial, is also a doctor. He said there’s growing evidence indicating that healthcare workers who perform aerosol-generating medical procedures are twice as likely to catch the virus despite wearing personal protective equipment.
He said inspiration for the tent came last year when he was treating a patient with pneumonia just as the pandemic was starting. The patient was crashing, on the verge of dying. It was essential to get a tube down the patient’s throat and get them on a ventilator so the machine could take over breathing for them.
Curial was wearing an N95 mask, but he could feel the seal wasn’t right. Air was leaking in around it.
He was trying to save a patient’s life, but he said all he could think was: “‘I have an air leak, what am I breathing in right now? What am I bringing home to my wife and one-year-old?’ (The tent) really came out of self-preservation. I wanted to protect myself and those working with me, too.”
Nearly all the components for the product are made in Edmonton with the exception being the fan and filter which are shipped from Ontario. Assembly takes from two to four weeks, with a full unit costing around $10,000, which includes consumable supplies.
Curial said this is a more affordable way to create the negative pressure zone required to remove infectious airborne particles when compared to renovating a whole room. He said he’s in discussions to offer his product to health groups in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. Curial said he would like to one day offer the tents to Alberta and is currently in discussions with three hospitals.
Curial started the business with high school buddy Chris Terriff in 2019.
“We were able to build a company with seven employees from scratch over two years and we definitely plan to keep growing and expanding,” he said. “I’m not an entrepreneur by trade. I just had an idea and I wanted to see it through to the end. The company came up around it.”