Covid-19 screening pod makes a good impression on medical frontliners

Dr Majorie (inside the pod) taking a swab from Gloria, as they try out the Cover-19 screening pod.

By Lian Cheng and Nancy Nais

KUCHING, April 12: “I feel safe inside there,” says laboratory technologist Matthew Chua after trying out the Sarawak’s very first Covid-19 screening pod.

For medical personnel like Chua and nurses such as Sister Gloria Margaret and Sister Am Sa’adiah who are tasked with taking swabs from persons under investigation (PUI) for Covid-19 at the screening centre located at the Youth and Sports Complex here, the Covid-19 screening pod comes as good news.

The first of its kind in Sarawak, the screening pod is designed to provide greater protection for medical personnel when taking swabs from PUI. The locally made screening pod was sent and installed at the screening centre at 5pm today.

“I feel safe inside there. For three weeks already we are in the swabbing area. We can see patients — they do cough and sniff, some of them did vomit.

“This (Covid-19 screening pod) will protect the frontliners especially during the swabbing. So this is very good, thank you very much, from the frontliners.”

The medical personnel at the screening centre will start using it tomorrow, even though some modifications such as a small fan need to be made.

Gloria put it aptly, that she truly hoped that this screening pod will “help to distance us from the patients and also protect the patients from us.”

For Dr Majorie Ensayan, the doctor overseeing operations at the screening centre, the Covid-19 screening pod provides an extra layer of solid protection.

Since the Covid-19 screening centre was set up at the Youth and Sports Complex three weeks ago, almost 3,000 samples have been collected, from which more than 100 have tested positive for Covid-19.

“We are very grateful for all these (efforts) and we hope that there will be more of such kind (of initiative) that can help to protect us while we are in contact with our patients.

“I definitely think it will help the frontliners when they are dealing with patients. But I would say since this is the very first time, I think in Kuching here, so we hope this will be a new hope for the frontliners to serve the community better as well as protect them from contracting the virus.

“There were already quite a few instances (narrow situations)…. the procedure itself is quite invasive. The way that you have to put a swab in and it will trigger a gag reflex. so there were a few patients who vomited during the procedure, while some coughed during the procedure.

“So the only protection that we have is the face shields and full gown and everything but with this (screening pod), it will be extra protection for them which I think creates another barrier between the patients and the frontliners,” said Dr Majorie.

Despite the medical personnel’s high hope that the pod will serve as extra protection, Dr Majorie said they will need to spend two days testing out the effectiveness of this pod before she is able to conclude if more of such pods should be built and distributed to other screening centres.

The screening centre at the Youth and Sports Complex has 14 doctors stationed in various zones and they are assisted by an equal number of nurses. In total, according to Dr Majorie, about 50 to 60 medical personnel are on duty each shift and they work from 8am to 5pm everyday.

Apart from the Covid-19 screening pod, a point of encouragement for this centre is that so far none of the medical personnel working here have showed any Covid-19 symptoms and their health is confirmed by daily Covid-19 testing. — DayakDaily