When Allison Kellogg was searching a Facebook site for doctors, she came across information about an acrylic box by Dr. Hsien Yung Lai in Taiwan. The box had three sides and a top and one of the sides had two holes in the center.


It’s designed to fit over a patient with COVID-19. The bottom of the box rests on the patient’s bed. The doctor puts their arms through the two holes and can then intubate or extubate the patient while reducing the aerosolized virus that often gets spread during this process. During intubation or extubation, it’s common for the patient to cough, which can send droplets flying.


Kellogg is an obstetrician/gynecologist working at Methodist Hospital, Stone Oak, in San Antonio. Her husband, Trey, is a chief resident at University Hospital, also in San Antonio. He’s expecting to start a pulmonary critical care fellowship in July, which worried Kellogg about what his exposure might be in that new role.


Kellogg reached out to her father, David Price, who lives in Austin. He’s a former emergency medical technician and a civil structural engineer.


Price looked at the drawings for the box and recognized that because Americans are larger people, he should modify them to be wider and deeper to fit our heads and make them easier for American doctors to use.


Price got suppliers he uses professionally to cut the acrylic for him. He’s a board member of a nonprofit called Medic Outpost, and he donated the supplies for the first 20 boxes through that group. Medic Outpost travels to places such as Kenya and Mexico to train first responders. Now the boxes have become their first project inside the United States.


Each box costs about $90 in materials. Price and his daughter and son-in-law glued the pieces together in the Kelloggs’ San Antonio garage one afternoon.


“Anyone who can put together a model airplane, can put these together,” Price says. You just have to be careful because the pieces are sharp, he says.


Both Kelloggs contacted their fellow doctors who are working with COVID-19 patients and administrators at their hospitals. Those doctors are now using the boxes. A second Methodist hospital is also using them.


Price reached out to both Ascension Seton and St. David’s Healthcare hospitals in Austin. Dell Seton Medical Center has asked for five boxes.


“We’ll make them available to any hospital in Texas,” he says.


When the Kelloggs and Price began building these boxes two weeks ago, doctors in the U.S. really hadn’t heard about them.


Now the New England Journal of Medicine has just published an article about how these boxes work, with a video demonstrating how they contain the disease.


Doctors at Boston Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both in Boston, did a simulation with the boxes. In the first video, doctors are not using the box. A mannequin has a balloon full of fluorescent dye placed in the hypopharynx. When the balloon bursts like a cough, the dye travels all over the doctor’s protective gear including the gown, gloves and face shield, and it also ends up on the floor and on the doctor’s neck, ears and hair.


When the doctors use the box and the balloon bursts, the dye stays within the box and only the gloves of the doctor’s hands inside the box get covered in dye.


Allison Kellogg says the doctors she knows have been using them without any trouble.


“They are using these as an added layer of protection, ” Kellogg says.


And when the boxes need to be cleaned, staff are able to use virucidal wipes that the hospital already has on hand, and put them back into use.