Quintin the robot helps in Covid-19 fight

Robot helps Tygerberg specialists on ward rounds.

There’s a new member of the medical team at Tygerberg Hospital – a robot called Quintin is helping in the fight against Covid-19.

Doctors forced to self-isolate can now still do ward rounds, checking in with patients remotely from their homes. 

Professor Coenie Koegelenberg, from Stellenbosch University’s faculty of medicine and health services, started experimenting before lockdown with ways to do the virtual ward rounds.

A robot is a tireless helper that cannot be infected.

“Between the specialists, we will share the workload of Covid-19 patients who end up in ICU. The odds of at least one or all of us falling ill are quite high, so we need to realistically plan for what could happen,” he said.

“If any of the specialists gets the virus and is unable to physically go to work. We will be able to function remotely using the robot, from a phone or a laptop,” Professor Koegelenberg said.

“Using this device will enable us to provide a service if our skills sets are in short supply.”

His wife, Dr Suretha Kannenberg, a dermatologist, and others had helped him come up with the idea, he said.

 Tygerberg Hospital’s head of ICU, Dr Usha Lalla, has tested the robot on a full ward round, and the hospital hailed the exercise a success.   

Quinton resembles a computer tablet mounted on a rod with wheels. It uses gyroscope and accelerometer sensors in its base and can be controlled from a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Doctor and patient can communicate through a microphone and a zoom function, and the device relays the vital signs of highly infectious patients.

Robots have also been used in Italy, where the pandemic has claimed many lives, including those of doctors.

The use of the robot at Tygerberg Hospital is yet another example of how the pandemic has brought ingenuity and collaboration to the fore.

Tygerberg Hospital’s ICU has about seven beds but it is being expanded to accommodate 44  https://www.northernnews.co.za/news/tygerberg-hospital-gets-life-saving-donation-46477664

The hospital also opened the first of 17 “triage and testing” centres in the province as part of the Department of Health’s preparation for any “surge” in Covid-19 cases  https://www.northernnews.co.za/news/tygerberg-opens-first-field-hospital-46276258.

Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DVFbYXu4Xc&feature=youtu.be to watch Quinton in action.