Dental students in Dundee have been able to continue their studies thanks to the introduction of special isolation chambers.
Clinical training across Scotland has been severely limited due to the risk of Covid spreading via aerosol transmission. However, practical learning has been able to be partially reinstated at Dundee Dental Hospital following the installation of Starn Group’s newly developed SafeClinic isolation chambers.
NHS Tayside has invested in twenty bespoke self-contained dental pods, 14 of which are already in place at the Dental Hospital.
Each pod is fitted with an airlock door meaning multiple areas of one clinic can be isolated, allowing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) to be completed safely.
The dental industry has been severely impacted by Coronavirus with many AGPs unable to be carried out for many months. The installation of SafeClinic pods has meant the Dental School is now able to treat a small number of patients in a safe environment and dental students can continue their education.
The special isolation pods have also been installed by NHS Lanarkshire at the Adult Critical Care Unit (ACCU) at Wishaw and the ICU at Hairmyres, allowing the use of their ICU and surgical high dependency units to return to full, pre-covid capacity.
Dr Andrew Hall, clinical senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School, said: “The installation of the dental pods has been a significant boost to our severely depleted teaching facilities in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
“Setting up dental pods covering dental chairs in open clinics at Dundee Dental Hospital has allowed us to undertake Aerosol Generating Procedures such as fillings and crown preparations once more during student clinics.
“While there are some side surgeries for mainly staff use at Dundee Dental Hospital we have to use ventilation provided by an open window and wait up to 40 minutes for any aerosol to displace. Pods allow us more places where we can teach our students and only have to wait 10 minutes for the aerosol to disperse.
“This means we can start to address the backlog in student teaching which has arisen with this significant change in the practise of dentistry. While there is still much work to do, pods are a big step in the right direction.”
Eve Daniell, a fifth year undergraduate student at Dundee Dental Hospital, said: “We are among a handful of students that have been fortunate to be able to continue our studies. The clinical training is of course essential and it’s been frustrating being unable to progress – though we understand it’s for the safety of not only us but also our patients.
“The SafeClinic technology has allowed that progression and, now that I know how effective it is, I can see the technology being used in dental practices as we as a profession move towards a sense of normality – it’s a solution that it makes sense to use.”
A total of 27 SafeClinics and SafeRooms have been installed in Ninewells Hospital, Borders General Hospital and Wishaw Hospital. SafeRooms are a portable anteroom with high efficiency particulate air filter, featuring an airlock door and converts existing rooms into isolation rooms.
James Downie, project manager at Starn Group, said: “We knew our technology had the potential to be adapted to help the NHS and so we mobilized out teams to make it a reality as soon as we could.”