UL graduate aims to clean up with prestigious award

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

A GRADUATE of the University of Limerick who has designed special furniture to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals is in the running for a prestigious international award.

A GRADUATE of the University of Limerick who has designed special furniture to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals is in the running for a prestigious international award.

Paddy Mulcahy, 21, graduated this week after completing a Bachelor Degree in Product Design and Technology at UL.

His invention, U-neat is an innovative sanitary hospital bed table and locker, designed to minimise the spread of Health Care Associated Infections (HCAI’s).

After winning the Irish final of the prestigious JamesDyson award, Paddy’s invention will now compete with 18 other international winners later in the years.

The 21-year-old says he was determined to make improvements to the Irish Health Care system by tackling this problem. “The existing furniture is a breeding ground for bacteria. Too often people admitted to hospitals contract further serious illnesses. Going to hospital shouldn’t mean putting your health at greater risk,” said adding that he first came up the idea after he was refused visits to his sick grandfather.

His research showed that over 70% of the spread of infections in hospitals was due to surface-to-person transfer of bacteria.

Paddy built various functional prototypes of the design and then sourced a hospital bed in order to accurately test these prototypes with different users.

A model ward was available at the University of Limerick testing in the real environment.

Every surface of U-neat is easily accessible for sanitising due to the table’s ability to rotate 360 degrees and the capacity for the drawers to be fully removed to access inside the unit.

U-neat also provides seating for visitors, which helps to create a controlled environment for seat allocation.

The international winner will be selected by James Dyson and announced on November 8, next.