BOC Healthcare has installed a pipeline system to deliver Heliox gas to patients' bedsides at St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey. It is the first system of this type in the UK.
Heliox is a ready to-use gas mixture from BOC, a member of the Linde Group, consisting of 79% helium and 21% oxygen. It assists the flow of oxygen into, and carbon dioxide out of, the lungs and so makes breathing less effort for patients with severe airway obstruction caused by conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma and bronchiolitis.
For the hospital, having the gas supplied from a piped system means that the gas supply is always available and nurses do not need to change cylinders in the wards. The system has initially been installed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St Peter's but an expansion of the scheme to other areas of the hospital is now under consideration.
St Peter's Hospital is situated between Woking and Chertsey just south of the M25. It serves the communities of Woking, Weybridge, Chertsey, Staines and Walton-on-Thames as well as the surrounding areas. Originally St. Peter's Hospital was built to serve casualties of the Second World War. Over the years, the Hospital has been rebuilt, developed and is now the major acute hospital for the local area, including acute medical and surgical services, maternity and paediatric services, a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally renowned orthopaedic and trauma centre.
Traditionally, Heliox has been supplied to the hospital in 10 litre cylinders pressurised to 200 bar. These would be manually delivered to five beds in the Intensive Care Unit and connected to ventilators for patients experiencing breathing difficulties. They would then need to be changed over by hand as each became depleted. Due to the specific needs of the high-dependency patients in the unit, the ICU needed to be frequently re-supplied with cylinders. The unit treats nearly 500 patients a year, with one or two being treated with Heliox every week.
The amount of time handling and changing over cylinders was limiting the use of Heliox treatment as the Head of the Unit, Dr Ian White, explains: "The staff time required to transport and change the cylinders at the bedside was a considerable drain on resources. Having Heliox piped to the bedside has simplified the logistics and means we can treat more patients on a weekly basis with greater security and better staff safety."
With the new BOC system, the gas is piped to the ICU from a secure store in another part of the site which frees up more space in the Unit. Instead of individual cylinders, the Heliox is provided to the hospital by manifolds, each of which is equivalent to a bank of 50 standard cylinders. This greatly increases the volume of gas available for use at any one time in the ICU. And instead of nurses or other ward staff having to replace empty cylinders, trained hospital staff can manage the changeover at the remote location.
For Lyndon Saul, BOC Healthcare's Engineering Services Manager, the piped supply at St Peter's represents a joint solution to a challenge. "This is the first time we have provided Heliox in this way. The hospital identified a limitation to the delivery of certain treatments within the ICU and, together, BOC and St Peter's were able to develop a solution. We believe that this piped system may have wider application across the UK hospital sector."
BOC is a member of The Linde Group. An industrial, medical and special gases provider, the company supplies compressed and bulk gases, chemicals and equipment. For more than a century the company's gases and expertise have contributed to advances in many areas of everyday life, and industries including steelmaking, refining, chemical processing, environmental protection, wastewater treatment, welding and cutting, food processing and distribution, glass production, electronics and health care.
The Linde Group
The Linde Group is a world leading gases and engineering company with almost 52,000 employees working in around 100 countries worldwide. In the 2008 financial year it achieved sales of EUR 12.7 billion. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards sustainable earnings-based growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment - in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development. For more information, see The Linde Group online at www.linde.com
Images to accompany this release are available from Simon Napper in BOC Communications.