The Faculty of health sciences at the University of Pretoria and the Steve Biko Academic hospital have greeted the new gender-neutral robot called Stevie to support covid-19 patients in their ICU ward.

Steve Biko hospital is a public health care system and has around 832 beds. It functions in Pretoria, SouthAfrica, and it is the primary teaching hospital of The University of Pretoria. From 20 December, Steve Biko hospital has encountered a steady increase of covid-patients. It appeared that Patients from various provinces and private hospitals were rushing to Steve Biko hospital for treatment.

This covid-19 pandemic has generated a sudden growth in telemedicine.

Recently, Stevie, a mobile robot – named after Steve Biko, A south African Anti-apartheid Activist, has joined the ICU team of Stevo Biko Academic hospital. It would be an interdisciplinary global telemedical alliance between the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Department of Critical Care at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, the Enhanced Recovery after Intensive Care (ERIC)-Tele ICU at the Charité Medical University of Berlin, and the Robert Koch Institute.

Stevie aids in private communication during the ward rounds through its privacy handset, which functions as a live phone. It has a stethoscope port to communicate information remotely during the diagnosis. It also has high-definition pan-tilt-zoom cameras for close-up examination of the patient. Stevie robot would put the Medical team in Germany in touch with the ICU team in Steve Biko hospital.

Professor Fathima Paruk, Academic and Clinical Head of the Department of Critical Care at UP and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, said:

“Both the SA and German teams, led by ICU specialists, will be able to interact virtually. This will enable the team from Germany to see the patient, look at the ICU monitors, and engage in discussions with patients. The ward round will involve discussing the medical condition and include a management plan over a secure line.”

Professor Tiaan de Jager, Dean of UP’s Faculty of Health Sciences, said:

“The Faculty takes pride in responding to the demands of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), which can aid patient care, enhance teaching and learning experience for students and support the University in conducting research that matters, thus leaving a positive impact on society.”

In addition to this, The use of Surgical robots has surged recently in the healthcare system. The University of Pretoria has previously employed a robot called “Libby” to help the students in the university library.