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Quintin the robot helping COVID-19 patients in ICU connect with loved ones

Receiving treatment in isolation is a lonely and fear-filled experience for most COVID-19 patients and 'Quintin' is doubling as a communication tool for family members to 'see' their relatives.

'Quinton' the robot is being used at the Tygerberg Hospital to reduce the risk of health workers being exposed to COVID-19. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - A robot is helping COVID-19 patients at Tygerberg Hospital connect with their loved ones.

Due to people not being allowed to visit patients in isolation units, 'Quintin' is doubling as a communication tool for family members to "see" their relatives.

Receiving treatment in isolation is a lonely and fear-filled experience for most COVID-19 patients.

Psychiatrist Dr Kerry Louw explains the "psychological anguish" involves a fear of death and sensory deprivation.

But Quintin is helping somewhat.

"Using a cellphone app, healthcare staff can steer Quintin into a ward right up to a patient's bed where family members can see and talk to their loved ones in the ICU."

Vuyelwa Simayile, who's husband was treated at Tygergerberg Hospital, said that just being able to see him with the help of Quintin was enough.

"The video calls were helping. Even though my husband couldn't talk for long, he was struggling to breathe, at least I could see him and I could talk to him."

Pulmonologist Professor Brian Alwood said that Quintin had made patients' ICU experience a little easier.

"For the first time our patients are seeing a face at the bedside who doesn't have a mask on, who doesn't have full PPE."

Quintin also helps reduce the number of doctors doing ward rounds as some can be virtually present through the robot.

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