SafeClinic Dundee Dental
  • Dental Undergraduates continue learning thanks to SafeClinic Isolation Pods

DENTAL students at Dundee Dental Hospital and School have been able to continue elements of their clinical studies thanks to energy services firm Starn Group who have adapted their specialist technology to support the NHS in the fight against COVID-19.

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 re-instated at Dundee Dental Hospital following the installation of Starn Group’s newly developed SafeClinic isolations chambers. NHS Tayside has invested in twenty bespoke self-contained dental pods, with 14 already in place at the Dental Hospital.

Starn Group has put their 20 years’ experience protecting workers in hazardous environments to use across the UK by developing and manufactured standalone temporary negative pressure isolation pods. 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 aerosol generating procedures 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 whilst dental students 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 helping to ease pressure as they manage Covid and non-Covid patient, and allowing the use of their ICU and surgical high dependency units to full, pre-covid capacity.

James Downie, project manager, 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. The Safehouse habitats are typically used for making hot work in hazardous environments safe where we use inline gas monitoring systems, meaning the clean air that is fed into the habitat is continuously monitored. We create an overpressure where hot work or welding is taking place and this pushes any flammable gasses away from the ignition source, protecting the person working within them. If any toxic or flammable gasses are detected in the clean air, the sensor closes the damper and maintains the integrity of the habitat.

“Using the same principles but by reversing our method of pressurisation, we were able to adapt the technology to provide safe environments for health-care staff and patients. We conducted extensive research into the guidelines for working within hospital environments, working closely with the NHS on design and construction standards.”

The Starn Group, of which Safehouse is a member, then launched its SafeClinic and SafeRoom products which are suitable for any healthcare environment. 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 Class-N negative pressure isolation rooms or Class-P positive pressure isolation rooms.

Dr Andrew Hall, Clinical Senior Lecturer, 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 (AGPs) 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 and experience 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 5th year undergraduate student at Dundee Dental Hospital, said: “We are 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.”

James Downie, Starn Group, added: “There has been a significant amount of interest in the technology, which is manufactured in Dundee, using locally sourced materials and measured for each location. Multiple SafeClinics and SafeRooms can quickly and easily be installed in historic and legacy buildings with minimal interruptions to normal daily operations of medical facilities. They can also be deployed in any area of the medical facility from Emergency Depts Intensive Care Units and Intensive Treatment Units.

“Ultimately the technology can help more patients be seen in a safe environment.  The system has the ability to set the number of air changes in the units with a minimum of 12 per hour drastically reducing the time required between patients from several hours, to a matter of minutes.”