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Current student helping guarantee oxygen to COVID-19 patients

15 May 2020

Current student Moritz Meyer zu Köcker and students from Jesus & Magdalene Colleges have been collaborating on a project at Addenbrookes hospital for the CUH NHS trust. The team tackling testing are coursemates and the project Moritz is working on is one of three being done by a group of ISMM (Industrial System, Manufacturing, & Management) student volunteers at Addenbrookes, all of which are supervised by our very own St Edmund's Fellow Florian Urmetzer.

The trio have been working specifically on the hospital's oxygen system. Oxygen has become a critical resource for hospitals as the increased demand by COVID patients has pushed the systems to their limits in some hospitals (a problem summarised well in The Guardian.

To tackle this Moritz and his colleagues looked at both oxygen demand (clinical data on oxygen requirements per patient) as well as supply (oxygen tank and pipelines) to advise the hospital on the number of patients that could safely be treated and which wards are safest to do so. In doing so, they mapped Addenbrookes' entire pipe network and are working on a simulation model which calculates pressure loss and maximum oxygen flow rates within the system to identify potential local bottlenecks. They have also assessed the control mechanisms and information transparency on the real-time demand of the hospital. According to Moritz, "a surprisingly hard task has been working out the oxygen usage of the hospital at any given time, as oxygen has never before been a scarce resource and was therefore not tracked." After their initial system capacity assessment they are working to install a network of sensors on the system which will allow the team at Addenbrookes to track demand in real-time to ensure the oxygen system is not overworked and at risk of collapse now, and in the future.

The overarching goal is to allow the hospital to treat the maximum number of patients without risking the vital oxygen supply, by advising on the systems capacity and limitations as well as providing data on the systems current usage.

Well done to Moritz and all those in St Edmund's and across the University working to help strengthen the healthcare systems in the midst of this global pandemic!