Doctor calls on Perham dad to build intubation boxes for hospital

Intubation Box.jpg
Dr. Rachel Redig performs a demonstration of how the box will work for intubating a patient. During the actual intubation process, there would normally be a sheet of plastic sealing the open end of the box to contain the airborne virus. Photo courtesy Tri-County Health Care

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a column that first appeared on Tri-County Health Care’s Tri Living Well blog at

There are community heroes busy donating their time and effort toward creating personal protective equipment (PPE) to help fight the spread of COVID-19 among health care workers.

Gary Domier of Perham may not have picked up a needle and thread, but he did put his handyman skills to work by building three intubation boxes to protect the staff at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena.

Ventilators are being used to help treat the most severe COVID-19 patients. To use the ventilator, health care workers need to intubate the patient, which requires putting a breathing tube down the throat.

During this procedure, the virus is often aerosolized which puts everyone around the area at risk of infection. This is where the protection of the intubation box comes into play. The box fits over the patient and has a pair of holes where the health care worker can put their arms through to safely perform the intubation process. A clear piece of plastic is draped over the patient so if the virus is airborne in the process, it is concealed within the box.


“The intubation box is a barrier between health care workers and the patient so we’re protected from this aerosolizing virus being exposed to us,” said Rachel Redig , and Emergency Department Director, and Trauma and Stroke Director at Tri-County Health Care. “This will be used for anyone who is having respiratory distress where they can’t breathe or breathe well enough and needs the assistance of a ventilator. It gives us a very important extra level of protection.”

Building that extra level of protection

Redig has been researching ways to limit the spread of the virus in the health care facility. She has tapped into a network of ER providers who share tips and tricks on social media. The idea to create these intubation boxes came from a hospital in Chicago.

Redig knew someone who would be up to the challenge of creating them.

Domier, who is Redig’s father, usually spends his time woodworking but knew he could build these boxes. The two of them found plans for the boxes online, modified as needed and Domier started his new project.

The walls are constructed of Plexiglas and the frame is comprised of PVC. Domier spent a day learning the best way to put the boxes together. After the first one was completed, it was brought to TCHC where experts examined it and made notes of any adjustments that would maximize the effectiveness of the box.

Domier finished up the next two in a day, sealed them with caulk and they were ready for use.

“It seems like most of the equipment is being sent to the east and west coasts so we have a shortage up here,” Domier said. “In the end it’s a good feeling to be able to do something like this.”

“We have had several talks about health care workers being exposed day in and day out and the worries about our health,” said Redig, also a Perham resident. “I can’t imagine what that is like as a parent, but I think he was thrilled to be able to contribute and provide that extra protection.”


How to help

Tri-County Health Care has been seeing an outpouring of community support in the form of donations of PPE. Manufactured N95 masks can be donated on the table outside the front entrance of the Wadena Clinic.

Additional needs include:

  • Sealed bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Safety glasses
  • Used scrubs
  • Clear plastic face shields
  • Safety goggles
  • Cloth face masks
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