Intubation Boxes Demonstrate Innovation in Action

Virtua Health explores new methods for safely providing care to COVID-19 patients

When it comes to COVID-19, the only way to get through this is together. With crowd-sourced community donations, two South Jersey companies have combined resources and are leading the charge to create a new type of protective device for health care workers in the tri-state area and beyond, including Virtua Health. 

Known as “intubation boxes,” these clear, Plexiglas containers limit medical workers’ exposure to airborne droplets during intubation – when a tube is inserted into a patient’s body for ventilation or other procedures.

“For an unbiased, outsider perspective, it’s important to look to professionals beyond the health care industry for viable solutions,” said Dr. Adam Glasofer, chief innovation officer of the Virtua Center for Innovation.

Dr. Glasofer served as an “unofficial advisor” for the initiative spearheaded by Pearlman Designs in Voorhees and Ascalon Studios in West Berlin. Working together, the two family-owned companies created more than 100 intubation boxes. 

Dr. Glasofer and his fellow Virtua clinicians tested and refined the initial prototype, and made recommendations that helped determine the final design. Today, 10 such boxes are now in use among Virtua’s five hospitals. 

“ICU teams are finding great value in the boxes,” said Dr. Glasofer. “They provide a sense of comfortability during procedures.”

For David Ascalon, a Cherry Hill artist who specializes in stained glass and sculpture, the project provided an opportunity to apply his talents in new ways.

“If you work with your hands and know the tricks of the trade, you can do anything,” David said. “It’s gratifying to help the people who help save lives.”

Joining David in his manufacturing efforts is his 17-year-old grandson, Zaiden Ascalon. A high school senior and aspiring filmmaker, Zaiden – like teens nationwide – found himself with more unstructured time than he could have ever imagined earlier in the year.

“All the things I had been looking forward to – my final choir concert, prom, graduation – they all just went away,” Zaiden said. “But I’m glad to be part of something that is helping people all the way from Massachusetts to Florida. I remember learning about World War II and the ways everyday people stepped up to serve their country. This feels like my contribution to the war against this virus.”

The Ascalons and their collaborators – namely Bob Loch and Seth Pearlman – are donating their time for this project, and have had business associates volunteer to deliver the boxes to hospitals along the East Coast free of charge. Major corporations and local businesses alike have donated materials and equipment, and grassroots fundraising on Facebook has helped to absorb any additional expenses.

“You do what you can do,” said David Ascalon modestly. “Everyone can help out in one way or another.”

For photos of the intubation boxes and the people who made them, click here. To schedule an interview with Virtua clinicians or the Ascalon family, contact Virtua Media Relations.