Fight against COVID -19 – Aurolab’s Contribution

Focus shifted in response to the need of the hour

When the lockdown was announced, the whole nation came to a standstill. At Aurolab, all routine production came to a halt. Even as people were trying to understand the enormity of the problem, the senior leaders at Aravind spearheaded by our Chairman swiftly constituted several committees to address and respond to various situations expected to arise from lockdown.

We at Aurolab took charge of the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) committee tasked with framing the protocols and procurement of the necessary PPE items for all Aravind Eye Hospitals. Aurolab’s focus now was to respond to people’s needs to fight the spread of COVID 19.

As always, safety of the employees was given top priority, followed by patient safety and safety of those accompanying them.

Aurolab came into being as a solution to a challenge that Aravind faced in the 1980s. Providing PPE to fight COVID 19 throws several challenges. We are glad that our staff rise to the occasion every time and manage to address them all, with determination and dedication. We are working towards supplying PPE to ophthalmic personnel all over India. Aurolab will continue to put its efforts in this fight against COVID 19.

I join with each and every member of Aravind family in this fight against the COVID19 and we are hopeful that our country will overcome this pandemic victoriously.

–   R.D. Sriram

Equipping to respond

After consulting several published guidelines and interacting with other institutions in India and elsewhere, Mr. Krishna Kumar began documenting the PPEs required for the various clinical set ups.

These included masks, respirators, gloves, face shields, gowns and other devices needed for the protection of staff coming in contact with patients who may be asymptomatic.The documentation was drawn out in detail guided by senior doctors at Aravind. Information about what kind of PPEs should be used, by whom, frequency of use  and decontamination/reuse protocol were all covered.

Mr.Krishna Kumar participated in a LAICO hosted webinar on PPEs which was well attended by LAICO partner hospitals and other hospitals across India.

With the pandemic of global scale, the procurement of the PPEs was a major challenge due to shortage of supplies. Mr.Jayachandran, Mr.Venkatesh and Mrs.Siggapi played a crucial role in procuring these critical products from various sources. They also ensured that these products reach all the 11 hospitals in sufficient quantities and on time!

Rapid response

Face Shields and Slit lamp shields were not available in the market. Employing available resources, Aurolab designed a simple yet effective product to serve the purpose. Mr.Rajasekar, Mr.Ramnath and their team played a vital role in designing these. Aurolab used its equipment, blister packing materials and high quality foam sheets to make the face shields which were well appreciated by the doctors and other paramedical staff. The face shields are in demand not just among ophthalmologists, but among doctors of other specialities, dentists, paramedical staff, policemen and other allied health workers. Aurolab has so far, delivered around 2,300 face shields free of cost to doctors across Tamil Nadu and continues to produce them.

With everyone asked to wear masks and respirators, supply could not meet the demand. Aurolab team researched and consulted with experts, and came up with an economical solution to the problem – to reuse the masks and respirators after proper decontamination process. The validated process for reuse of respirators is exposure to UV light within a fixed distance and at a particular wavelength. There was no such equipment in the market.

Aurolab ingeniously modified the unused case sheet racks from the hospital to build a cabinet that is safe, follows all the validated protocol and effectively decontaminates both the sides of the respirator at the same time. This UV decontamination (UVD) unit was designed and manufactured in a very short time by Mr.Suthen and team at Aurolab and Mr.Viswanath of Viswam industries, Madurai.  Aurolab is supplying 40 plus  UVD units across all Aravind Eye Hospitals.A detailed protocol for safe usage was also developed and handed over to the hospitals for implementation.

Mr.Karthick Viswanathan has developed all the training materials regarding the use of UV chambers and decontamination of respirators.

Mr.Karthigeyan has been the point of contact at Aurolab for all Aravind Eye Hospitals to ensure they all received the necessary PPE supplies on time. He also coordinated the delivery of UV units and demonstrated its usage to the staff at Aravind.

Production of Aurorub and other disinfectants were stepped up to meet the growing demand from Aravind facilities  and other customers as well. Aurolab Production staff and Shipping team worked all through this lock down times to ensure the continued supply of these essential items.

In line with ethos of Aravind to share and care for the ophthalmic community, Aurolab put together a safety kit comprising 2 face shields, 2 Aurorub 500ml and 1 slit lamp shield and managed to deliver them to ophthalmologists across Tamil Nadu in spite of the lockdown. A master plan for distribution was developed by Mr. Sivanand and team starting with distribution in the state Tamil Nadu.  The sales team lead by Mr.Balasubramanian executed the plan, delivered 300 + such kits across 30 cities through sheer dedication and putting the safety of customers first. As the lockdown eases, the safety kits will be distributed to many more ophthalmologists across the country, free of cost.  Mr.Siddique coordinates this effort from Madurai.

Although routine production was stopped, the lockdown period was utilised wisely. With minimal staff and available raw materials, Aurolab continued to manufacture a few essential products to ensure smooth supply to customers after lock down- under rigorous monitoring all along to ensure that the production staff follow social distancing and the prescribed hygienic measures.

The sales and marketing teams utilised the time usefully by running training programmes  on Aurolab products via zoom and conducting online tests using the Aurosiksha platform.This period was used by all functional departments such as Purchase, Accounts, Imports to complete all pending works. The International Marketing Department left no stone unturned to execute and ship the received orders even in these though times. The Finished Goods store has kept all orders ready for shipping once the courier services start functioning.

The young production staff in Aurolab are kept occupied throughout the day with a series of activities aimed at their physical and mental well-being. Daily yoga session are being arranged. Games, both indoor and outdoor ensure that they remain active and have fun. Extreme care is taken to make sure that they follow social distancing and other hygienic measures.

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