PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Engineering Students Improve South African Medical Clinics

When Americans get sick, we drive to the nearest health clinic to visit a doctor. In rural South Africa, it is often times more practical for the care to come to the patient. Penn State engineering students work in South Africa to bring improvements to these mobile medical clinics.

This care is delivered in the form of trucks, provided by the government, staffed with nurses who traverse the countryside bringing care mainly to farm workers, who are unable to get out to a clinic.

Unfortunately, many of these mobile clinics have limited or outdated technology, among other problems. For instance, there is a lack of storage space which results in incomplete patient records.

“This is a major problem because chronic illnesses which require regular treatment, such as blood pressure and AIDS, cannot be addressed. Also, acute illnesses run the risk of becoming more serious or even life-threatening if ignored,” said Eric Froede, a second-year master’s student in mechanical engineering.

There were also failures on basic sanitation levels. In the old model the water tanks were often insufficient, which meant that nurses had to see consecutive patients without washing their hands.

Other problems include an inability to deal with the extreme summer (and winter) temperature and unreliable vehicles that allowed the integrity of the clinical environment to be compromised by letting in dust.

Froede, along with teammate and mechanical engineering doctorate student Bryan Lewis, is a member of the Global Engineering Team, an educational network of universities dedicated to bringing graduate-level engineers together from across international boundaries. Penn State is currently the only U.S. partner in this network. In this project, Froede and Lewis are collaborating with two first-year mechanical engineering graduate students from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

In mid-September, the team traveled to Berlin to present their design. After a year of testing, the South African government hopes to replace its full fleet within three years.

Lewis and Froede hope not only to modernize the equipment, but also to institute a modular design, which allows the nurses to exchange equipment depending on the needs of the patients. Presumably this would solve some of the record-keeping and hygiene issues as well.

As for vehicular reliability, the mechanical engineers agree; Germans know what they are doing. They have opted to go with the Volkswagen Crafter 35 as the platform which will house these mobile clinics.

Matthew Parkinson, associate professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering at Penn State, and Cornie Scheffer, professor of biomedical engineering at Stellenbosch University, served as mentors on this project.

A report on Penn State Live helped contribute to this story. 

About the Author

Joseph Rogachevsky

Hey, I'm Joe. I enjoy long walks on the beach and good conversation. Gouda cheese is nice, but I prefer Brie. I'm very well-traveled. A typical Saturday night for me is spent at Irving's Cafe. I drink coffee for the taste.

Comments

More by Joseph

Director of National Human Genome Research Institute Updates on Medicine, Calls for Help

Since the era of recorded history, thinkers as early as Aristotle have philosophized on the nature of heredity. Hippocrates believed that hereditary material was collected throughout the body and then passed to offspring, not unlike Darwin’s speculation thousands of years later. On Saturday, NHGRI and Eric Green presented on the continuing research conducted in pursuit of genetics-based care.

Did Your Genetics Cause You to Read This Headline?

Despite Arctic Weather, Willard Preacher Keeps Preaching

Athletics

Reports: Tony Carr To Begin Professional Career In Italy

Tony Carr might have to wait a little longer than he had hoped to make his NBA debut.

Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie Showcases At Devils Development Camp

Penn State Hoops Releases 2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule

Forward Abdou Tsimbila Commits To Penn State Hoops

Penn State Volleyball Trio Representing U.S. At Pan-American Cup

Student Life

Penn State Student Dies Of Allergic Reaction To Peanuts

Max McGlinchey had just finished his freshman year studying finance.

Freshman 101: On-Campus Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

‘Rathskeller’ Name Subject Of Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The complaint cites that the business has been sold throughout the years and is not tied to that specific location.

Finance Committee Recommends Tuition Freeze For In-State Undergraduate Students

If it is approved by a full-Board vote Friday, the committee’s budget plan will freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for the first time since 2015.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Doggie’s Rathskeller And Garden Opens With Hopes Of Returning To Its Roots

The All-American Rathskeller is no more and Doggie’s Rathskeller and Garden is officially in business — opening with its “sneak peak” at the new bar Thursday afternoon in time for Arts Fest.

Send this to a friend