COVID ventilation hood wins WorkSafe Health and Safety Solution of the Year award

Professor Jason Monty, with the McMonty ventilation hood.

An innovative personal ventilation hood developed by a team at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Western Health and CSIRO, that protects patients and staff from the spread of infections like COVID-19 has won the WorkSafe Victoria 2021 Workplace Health and Safety Solution of the Year award.

Now known as the McMonty and being produced by Medihood, the hood was developed by Professor Jason Monty, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, in collaboration with Western Health and CSIRO specialists.

The award recognises individuals and organisations that develop, implement and/or manufacture solutions to health and safety issues or hazards in their own workplace or for industry.

The McMonty covers the top half of a hospital bed. A small fan extracts aerosol droplets suspended in the air, from which a special filter removes infectious particles. Importantly, the hood is not airtight, thus preventing difficulty breathing and allowing for patient comfort and easy access by healthcare workers. This significantly reduces the risk of infection transmission through particulate matter, resulting in a safer environment for both healthcare workers and patients.

The idea for the hood was inspired by Dr Forbes McGain from Western Health. While he was running in the park with his daughter in a pram, he realised that a pram-type hood would protect COVID-19 patients and nursing staff in intensive care units at Sunshine and Footscray Hospitals.

After being contacted by Dr McGain, Professor Monty assembled a team of mechanical engineers to begin work on a prototype.

“We’d had no experience in working with med tech, or hospitals, or infectious diseases, but we did know a lot about fluid mechanics, which is the movement of air,” Professor Monty said.

“We knew we didn’t have to fully isolate the patient from the rest of the ward. We believed we could keep other patients and staff safe by sucking air past the patient and filtering out the infectious disease particles from the air.”

After several prototype iterations, the McMonty was approved in 2020 and is now being used in many hospitals around Australia for safe treatment of COVID-19 patients in intensive care. It has also garnered interest from overseas.

“It’s been an incredible privilege to be involved in this project,” Professor Monty said.

Watch the WorkSafe Victoria video about the McMonty here.

You can read more about the collaboration and development on the ventilation hood on Pursuit.