EWH with their certified Laminar Flow

Students in UIC’s chapter of Engineering World Health (EWH) use engineering skills to develop solutions for improving healthcare around the world. Their latest completed project—a laminar flow hood—was built to help the Nhi Dong 1 Pediatric Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections.

“Hospital-acquired infections are a problem all over the world,” says Miiri Kotche, PhD, the group’s faculty advisor and a clinical professor in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Bioengineering. “The laminar flow hood is one small way students can help improve global health.”

The flow hood—or sanitary cabinet—will provide an aseptic workspace for preparing intravenous medication in the NICU unit at the hospital. Its design includes a high efficiency particle-arresting (HEPA) filter to sanitize air flow, a blower to circulate the air into the workspace, and an ultraviolet light bulb that kills any bacteria on the workspace surface.  

EWH members began designing the equipment in 2015 after the group’s first site-assessment trip to Vietnam where they learned about the hospital’s need for a sanitized space to mix intravenous compounds. “We went with eyes wide open to identify potential projects and came back with the idea to design a laminar flow hood,” says Kotche.

With support from the College’s Annual Fund, five students on the team returned to Vietnam this March after the flow hood achieved certification through LabMetrics Inc., a medical laboratory in Burr Ridge, Illinois that provides consulting services. Passing all five tests—including air speed and microbial tests—the flow hood now meets the same performance specifications as a commercial hood used in a pharmacy, lab, or hospital.

Kotche’s goal, after successfully sending the equipment halfway around the world, is to create a long-term relationship between EWH and the hospital. The team is now working on improving the current design to make it reproducible and more cost-effective for locally sourcing in Vietnam.

Click here to read the students’ blogs about their recent trip.

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