June 16, 2021
SnapCab, a leader in developing workspace privacy solutions that are flexible, high quality and safe to use, has collaborated with a Kingston, Ontario medical expert to develop SnapCab Care, a new mobile medical exam room for the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) COVID-19 Assessment Centre (AC).
The SnapCab Care is nestled safely inside KHSC’s COVID-19 AC, which is located at the Beechgrove Complex Recreation Centre. The SnapCab Care is an isolated pod connected to a semi-enclosed examination area that physicians can take advantage of in order to treat patients requiring additional privacy and comfort.
The pod, which is a variation of the SnapCab Work+ model, is an enclosed yet ventilated office area with its own HEPA filtration system, a glass front with a sound-blocking glass door, as well as two windows with one-way glass, allowing physicians to see out into the AC and exam area while fully maintaining the privacy of the patients they are treating.
The exam area features the SnapCab Connects wall system and is accessible to gurneys. This area allows physicians to work directly with patients who require more private, serious care. When the entire unit is facing the wall, as it is meant to be used, the exam area provides audio and visual privacy to those inside.
SnapCab Care features heavy-duty casters that allow users to move it around the floor space as needed to accommodate AC patient flow and any other requirements. It can be taken apart and reassembled in another building when the time comes. The surfaces are easy to sanitize and in compliance with AC safety regulations.
SnapCab, established in Warrington, Pennsylvania, has a new start-up factory in Kingston specializing in workspace products. Before the pandemic, the company manufactured meeting pods for up to six people. With the world now keeping its distance, the company faced a daunting future. Glenn Bostock, SnapCab founder and CEO, was looking at the real possibility of closure.
But on March 29, 2020, Bostock heard Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking Canadians to be part of the solution. Bostock and his team started developing a prototype of a non-contact COVID-19 swabbing pod.
Without medical expertise on staff, SnapCab called upon Dr. Joy Hataley, a family practice anesthetist who is the District Chair of the Ontario Medical Association. Prior to the pandemic, Dr. Hataley had taken part in SnapCab’s Lean Tour, an in-person and online event where attendees tour SnapCab’s facility to learn about lean manufacturing and building a culture of continuous improvement.
Dr. Hataley pitched in to help work with the SnapCab team on developing a testing pod prototype because she liked how it could help protect medical staff, increase efficiencies in testing, and reduce the use of personal protective equipment. The technician doing the swabbing, for example, is protected behind glass in an enclosed space. This is the first of many pivots SnapCab took to respond to the pandemic. The company is now working with global design firm CannonDesign to bring the final testing pod product to the market.
In the meantime, KHSC had opened the AC, first in two hockey arenas, and then in its current location at the Beechgrove Complex.
Cindy Bolton, Director of Community Partnerships with KHSC, said the AC has seen volumes increase steadily over the last 15 months, from 1,000 visits per month to over 12,000 total. Most of the patients visiting the AC come for COVID-19 testing, but each day some also need to see the physician on site for further assessment. The open area was not optimal for physician assessment, she said.
Knowing the kinds of products that SnapCab manufactures, Dr. Hataley connected with the company to explain what the centre needed. Bostock and the SnapCab team were excited to manufacture a solution.
Dr. Hataley worked with the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) to secure major donors, including the W.J. Henderson Foundation, a local organization that supports health-care projects that can have immediate local clinical impact, as well as the CaraCo Group of Companies.
“The CaraCo family has made a commitment to keep donations within our local Kingston community, and we feel strongly that the UHKF touches everybody,” CaraCo CEO Gennaro DiSanto said of the donation.
Dr. Omar Islam, Department Head of Diagnostic Radiology at Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences; radiologist Dr. Johanna Ortiz; Dr. Hataley and other local doctors have also made donations. Dr. Islam said that he has family and friends who have visited the centre and he values any effort to create a safe and private environment for COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Ortiz visited the AC and found the workflow to be very organized, creating the least stressful experience possible for patients.
“Donating to the exam pod seemed like a good cause to contribute to,” she said. “The pandemic has made many of us feel unsafe. This pod could make the patients and our health care workers feel safer.”
Dr. Andrea Gallo Hoyos, a radiology specialist who practices and teaches at KHSC, decided to donate to the project because she wanted to help her community and colleagues in the pandemic.
“This situation makes us more conscious about our role in helping each other,” Dr. Gallo Hoyos said. “We are not isolated individuals. We are a community.”
SnapCab is a contributor as well. Instead of shutting its doors, SnapCab has opened its doors to new opportunities to be useful in the pandemic. In addition to SnapCab Care and testing pods, the company took its Meet 4 and Meet 6 collaboration-style pod products and redesigned them into individual office pods called the Work and Work+.
The team developed an award winning home office pod, the Meet 2, as well as the Consult, a two-person pod designed with a glass partition to provide a safe place for face-to-face interactions. The Consult has been featured by the Globe and Mail, CTV News and other national media for its use in an Ottawa church.
SnapCab has also been recognized for its pandemic pivot by Export Development Canada in its national advertising campaign Business as Unusual, and most recently, in Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards for designing and developing isolation and medical testing pods to help keep people safe. Just this week, the SnapCab Care was named a winner in the DNA Paris Design Awards in the Responsible Design category.