Hospital uses tech to minimize risk
Updated 16:26, 19-Feb-2020
By Sun Ye, Wang Lei

In Beijing's Haidian Hospital, a designated hospital treating patients with the novel coronavirus, medics say Xiao Bao the robot has been a huge relief for them.

The robot has been trained by the medical workers and working there for a week. It goes around restricted wards where the suspected and infected stay.

Remotely controlled by health workers outside, the robot delivers medications, takes temperatures, and spends a lot of time telling patients about medical precautions.

Dong Jianping, director at the hospital's department of infectious diseases, said having the robot means a huge stone is lifted off her heart.

"We were under huge pressure two weeks ago when we first admitted eight patients infected with the coronavirus," she told CGTN. Back then, medics knew little about how infectious the virus was and how best to cope with it. 

"To tend to the patients well means we need to spend a lot of time with them, and several times a day closely monitor their situation, take samples and answer their needs. I was very worried about whether our team was protected enough," Dong said.

She said staying too long in the restricted wards poses high risks. "We all know, for example, a damp mask is a very much compromised mask."

But the best thing about the robot, Dong said, is that doctors and patients can now speak through Xiao Bao much more than they did in person.

Dong said: "The dilemma before was that you wanted to spend more time with patients but more time means more risk. Now we speak through Xiao Bao easily for half an hour or an hour, the patients are no longer anxious, neither are we."

The hospital is among the first in the capital city to employ the robot amid the outbreak as companies in the area team up with healthcare facilities. The hospital is also experimenting with uses of disinfectant robots and other service robots; all to minimize the danger that medical treatments put medical workers in.

Zhang Fuchun, superintendent at Haidian Hospital, said "We know that the longer one spends with a patient, the more danger the person is in. And the closer one gets to the infected, the greater risk one is at. The sicker the patients, the more dangerous. Think about all the procedures health workers conduct, they are faced with the biggest risks."

The robot has also been put into use in Hubei Province. It's hoped that the likes of Xiao Bao might take even more heavy loads off health workers' shoulders.