Georgia Tech student helps build barrier protection devices to battle COVID-19

In another effort to flatten the curve, a Georgia Tech graduate student is part of an innovative collaboration to develop personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

This is in honor of his parents who have each worked in public service for more than 30 years.

“I always grew up just building things,” said Kentez Craig, a mechanical engineering graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

His school has partnered with Emory University to develop a protective barrier separating a doctor and patient during intubation.

Craig says it is a critical piece of equipment that would guard against the many things that can happen when tubes are inserted into sedated patients.

“You still will have some involuntary responses. Some people cough or gag. On rare occasions vomiting,” Craig said. “Either way, that produces an aerosol that gets blown back to the doctor or healthcare worker’s face.”

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Craig and fellow students found a solution: a clear foldable box made of polycarbonate material.

“That equipment is still contaminated, and there are some best practices for making sure that you don’t get contaminated, but the best practice of all is making sure it never gets on you in the first place,” Craig said.

His father, Kenneth Craig, has worked in public service for more than 30 years. He currently works in the ER of a local hospital, so the work his son is doing hits close to home.

“So much is needed in healthcare, and they’re struggling so hard with PPE. It’s just another phase of really helping flatten that curve,” Kenneth Craig said.

The students have produced about 250 units so far and have distributed them to local hospitals like Emory, Grady and Piedmont.

“As Martin Luther King used to say, 'Hey, if you’re a street sweeper, here stands the biggest street sweeper,'” Kenneth Craig said.

Kentez says he’s just proud to help healthcare workers during this COVID-19 pandemic and honor his parents along the way.

“So now that I was just able to make that connection between my parents who worked combined 60 plus years in public service and the tinkering with things, it’s unbelievable that I’ve made this big a difference on the projects,” Kentez Craig said. “It wasn’t just me, but to be a big part of that, it’s been really, really rewarding.”

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