EVEN though there’s no shortage of PPE at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon said Covid-19 has presented an opportunity to get back a more sustainable way of doing things.
Mr Gareth Higgins, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at UHW, came up with a solution to the use of disposable PPE by developing a reusable, Irish made and sustainable gown that gives the wearer “great peace of mind”.
With the prototype being well received by hospital management, a total of 3,000 gowns were commissioned for use at UHW.
Speaking to the Waterford News & Star Mr Higgins made it clear that his drive to source new gowns was not due to a shortage of PPE at UHW. “In the context of the Pandemic I realised that we cannot continue to rely on long supply chains and disposable kit from China. When I started as a surgeon we always re-sterilised everything,” he explained, saying no country can sustain the use of disposable gowns forever.
After coming up with the concept Mr Higgins turned to Dunmore East dressmaker Colette McGrath, who used her wonderful sewing skills to put together gowns for the Ophthalmology and ENT Departments using material sourced from Marshall Marine. “You need something durable, washable and something that is water resistant. We were looking at different materials and I rang up Marshall Marine,” he said, eventually deciding on nylon fabric used to make sail bags. Initially, panels for 100 gowns were produced by Marshall Marine and then expertly sown together by Colette. “They are really high quality and we are grateful to Colette. The idea is we will have a source of PPE, that when we are finished with the gowns we can put them into a laundry bag and not into a bin bag,” he said.
The gowns were tested and approved by the hospital, before being trialled by the two departments. Mr Higgins also approached senior management at UHW, who agreed that it was exactly what was needed. “Within a few days we had ordered a large amount of these gowns,” he said. The first batch arrived on Monday (May 4) and will be distributed accordingly.
Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, “The hospital has managed well so far, but we have to prepare for the possibility of a major surge. When you look at the NHS and the hospitals in London any service would struggle to maintain the levels of PPE that are going to be required in a major surge.”
Furthermore, it is logical to move towards reusable garments, as it is likely that we are going to have to live with Covid-19 for some time.
“At some point we are going to have to try to resume elective surgery in the context of Covid-19. However much PPE we are using now, when we start operating routinely again we are going to have to protect ourselves and the patients and we will be using even more,” Mr Higgins said.
Waterford News & Star, May 5th 2020
UHW Ophthalmologists Ms. Emer Henry and Mr. Gareth Higgins took part in the recent "Mini-Medical School" run by RCSI from 21st-23rd February.
Ms. Henry gave a lecture entitled "What Can go Wrong With the Eye" outlying practical aspects of Ophthalmology as a career.
Mr. Higgins took part in the Practical Surgical Skills section, teaching suturing techniques to the participants.
UHW Eye Department, with the kind assistance of Thea pharmaceuticals, had the pleasure of hosting a mini-symposium on "Ocular Surface Disease" at Faithlegg House Hotel on Tuesday 14th February.
The programme was as follows:
"Gonococcus as a cause of Corneal Perforation".
Dr. Robert Brady, SHO in Ophthalmology, UHW
"A case of fungal keratitis caused by Phoma Species"
Dr. Maeve Rhatigan, SHO in Ophthalmology, UHW
"Management of Recurrent Corneal Erosion"
Mr. Paddy Condon, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Waterford
"Ocular Surface Disease"
Mr. Alex Shortt, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London
University Hospital Waterford Eye Clinic has recently been equipped in November 2016 with the most technological advanced clinical retinal imaging system available in the World.
The “DRI OCT Triton, swept source OCT” will revolutionise our diagnostic capabilities.
Waterford was the first city in Ireland to acquire an OCT imaging system in 2008 and now almost 10 years later we are at the forefront of a new technology “Angio OCT”.
The DRI OCT Triton high definition B-scans not only provides extremely clear images of the retinal structures but for the first time penetrates deep into the choroid and sclera revealing features not visible with the older technologies. It also images the cortical vitreous and its relation to the retina not previously possible and allows better planning of retinal surgery.
The “Angio OCT” function is probably the most exciting aspect of the technology. For the first time we can non-invasively image the blood flow of the retina and reveal its intricate structure at different levels. We can appreciate individual capillaries and we can see their relationships in 3D.
Our Glaucoma and Corneal surgeons are also pleased as they can now offer anterior segment OCT and HD Optic disc OCT imaging with associated progression software.
Our Medical Retinal and Vitreoretinal consultants attended the “1st International Swept Source OCT & Angiography Conference in Madrid” on the 10th and 11th of February 2017. This was an opportunity to meet some of the World experts in the frontier of this new technology and join the discussion on its clinical applications.
We are now equipped with technology to compete for funding for international medical retinal research projects.
04 March 2016 - 05 March 2016
Waterford Regional Hospital
4th (full day) and 5th (half day) March, 2016.
Course co-ordinator Mr John Stokes.
Please contact Marian Scully on 01-402 8535 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
A clinical teaching session was held at the Department of Ophthalmology, UHW on the evening of Tuesday 28th April. The session consisted of 6 clinical stations covering various subspecialties within Ophthalmology running in parallel with the GPs divided into 6 groups. The session was very well attended with approximately 50 GPs attending on the night and feedback on the teaching was extremely positive.