Coronavirus: Cork nursing home the first to pilot new symptom alert software

Technology alerts staff members remotely if their body temperature gets too high

A Cork nursing home has become the first in the country to pilot an innovative piece of remote temperature checking software. Photograph: Getty

A Cork nursing home has become the first in the country to pilot an innovative piece of remote temperature checking software. Photograph: Getty

 

A Cork nursing home has become the first in the country to pilot an innovative piece of remote temperature checking software that can detect early Covid-19 warning symptoms in staff.

This week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged those in nursing homes, being elderly and infirm, were at particular risk of contracting the disease which has claimed 730 lives in Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said Covid-19 was going to exact a significant toll on the nursing home population and the government’s job was to minimise that by safeguarding those in nursing homes and other care homes.

And a specialist in infectious diseases at the Mater Hospital, Dr Jack Lambert told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke the number of Covid-19 clusters in nursing homes had grown from the mid-20s in March to more than 200.

But now, Oaklodge Nursing Home, in Cloyne in East Cork, has begun to address the issue for its 65 residents and 83 staff by piloting the Covid-19 Remote Early Warning System (CREW) which has just been developed.

The Crew warning system was developed by software development company, 8 West Consulting, with the College of Medicine and Health at University College Cork, The Assert centre and Tyndall Institute at UCC.

The system, which was initially trialled at Cork University Hospital over the past two weeks, focuses on the fact that the most common symptom in cases of Covid-19 is a rise in body temperature.

The CREW system remotely checks the temperature of staff with a digital thermometer sensor and an alarm is triggered if their temperature gets too high, which is a warning to stay at home and self-isolate.

Owner of Oaklodge nursing home, Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh said they were thrilled to be the first nursing home in Ireland to trial the CREW software which is still in the test phase before it can be rolled out nationally.

“Covid-19 presents unparalleled challenges for nursing home staffing throughout the country, so technology like this that helps to protect our frontline workers is critical,” he said.

“We are delighted to be the first nursing home into trial the CREW software. Thankfully, we currently have no Coronavirus cases, and hope this will help to continue to protect our staff and residents alike over the coming months.”

Professor Barry O’Reilly, director of the Assert Research Centre at UCC, said a huge amount of diagnosed cases of Covid-19 are occurring among the healthcare community working to halt the spread of the disease.

“The single common variable in most cases is a rise in body temperature so 8 West decided to repurpose some of its existing SafeTrx technology to build a Covid-19 Remote Early Warning System (CREW) for frontline workers.”

John Murphy, chief executive of 8 West, which developed the software in partnership with a strong project team that includes Sony, emergency medicine clinicians, medical researchers and Cambridge Wireless, said initial results were positive.

“Including care homes has always being part of the vision and we are delighted to be working with Oaklodge as our first implementation in that sector,” said Mr Murphy, adding the CREW platform is showing good functionality.

“Preliminary data analysis is showing good usability, positive encouraging and consistent temperature recording results, with close alignment of the sensor data to that from tympanic membrane (ear) temperature data.”

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