6 May 2020

Venture to help shield WA’s frontline health workers

WA’s frontline health workers now have access to quality, face shields that have been made right here in WA by the WA Health system.

With strong demand for these items expected to continue throughout the COVID-19 emergency, the WA Health system took the initiative to make its own shields to ensure ongoing supply.

The new venture has been led by biomedical engineers from the East Metropolitan Health Service's Centre for Implant Technology and Retrieval Analysis (CITRA), who will also oversee production.

The six-member team is based at Royal Perth Hospital and is internationally renowned for its expertise in assessing the safety and quality of medical products and devices.

It will ensure the locally made equipment – which has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration – meets the high safety and quality standards required for hospital PPE.

CITRA also produces customised implants and medical devices for use in WA hospitals.

Members of the team began investigating the feasibility of producing PPE after recognising their expertise could be applied to assist with the COVID-19 response.

Following this initial due diligence, the team joined forces with engineers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and University of WA, Chief Scientist Peter Klinken and local industry. The collaborators assessed designs and manufacturing capability, obtained clinical approval for the final prototypes and ensured ongoing access to quality, locally available materials.

CITRA will be the official manufacturer of the shields, with actual production outsourced to local plastics engineering firm, Adarsh Australia. 

Two types of shield will be produced - a standard shield to be used by general hospital staff as well as a more specialised design for Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeons.

CITRA has also been involved in ground-breaking research, including work to help patients requiring cranial reconstruction to regrow sections of their own skulls using human stem cells and advanced 3-D printing technology.