While hospitals were scrambling for ventilators, masks and gloves in preparation for a COVID-19 surge, many were also installing baby monitors in emergency departments and intensive care units.

Since all critically ill patients with breathing problems need to be treated as suspected COVID-19 cases, resuscitation and emergency treatment has to take place in a sealed room.

Although hands-free voice-activated technologies are increasingly common in homes, many hospitals don’t have them.

“As we were preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases, we realized we were going to need a way to communicate from inside a room to the outside of the room without breaking negative pressure seals,” says Dr. Shawn Mondoux, an emergency physician and lead for quality and safety in his department at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton.

A system of “clean” and “dirty” teams has been adopted in many hospitals instead of the usual approach of “all hands on deck in the room,” says Mondoux.

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With this new protocol they encountered a new issue: the “dirty” team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists in a resuscitation room needs to communicate with the outside “clean” team to get medicines,