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March 2021 seed grant awards

The Centre is pleased to announce that two research seed grants have been awarded:

Project title: Novel PPE to retard spread of micrometer sized viral infected nasal droplets

Dr Apurv Kumar, School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences, Federation University,

Professor Fadi Charchar, Graduate Research School, Federation University

A/Professor Ibrahim Sultan, School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences, Federation University

Dr. Subrat Das, Deakin University.

Description: The project aims to design a novel PPE to prevent exposure to the viral infected nasal droplets in various social interaction scenarios. The main cause of viral transmission (eg. COVID-19) is the spread of infected nasal droplets. Such droplets are extremely tiny and are usually of micrometer size that escapes the pores in the common surgical masks or gaps in the N95 masks. Due to the inefficient filtration by the current fibre based masks, the transmission of the virus in common social interaction scenarios (such as shopping centres, closed spaces like vehicle cabins & restaurants) has caused severe outbreaks all over the world. The social distancing of 1.5 m is also open to question as the droplets are known to travel as far as 8 m in windy conditions. The present work therefore proposes to design a novel PPE to shield personnel from incoming droplets or repel the droplets completely, thus creating a safety zone around a human body. Such a technology can also enable effective filtration of air in a ventilation system by eliminating droplets from the circulation system, thus enhancing the quality of air in closed spaces. The scope of the project involves technical design and specification of the innovative PPE device and parametric study of the influence of the operating parameters on the droplet repulsion.

Project title: Better enabling, retaining, and sustaining the pharmacy workforce in regional, rural and remote settings

Dr Daniel Terry, School of Health, Federation University,

A/Professor Danny Hills, School of Health, Federation University

Dr Blake Peck, School of Health, Federation University

Mark Kirschbaum, Pharmacy Board Australia

Dr Kehinde Obamiro, Centre for Rural Health, University of Tasmania

Background: Pharmacists are important to rural communities as they play a critical healthcare role and are often the first health professional consulted. In some cases, the pharmacist is the only health professional available to rural communities. However, rurally there is an uneven distribution and under-supply of pharmacists.

Aims: We seek to develop a workforce measurement tool to identify what factors rural communities have that make pharmacist want to work and stay.  We will work with health policy academics and pharmacy experts to create and test a unique recruitment and retention tool.

Design: The study will undertake a comprehensive literature review and expert interviews to identify factors impacting pharmacist recruitment and retention. A Delphi sub-study will be conducted to develop the pharmacist recruitment and retention tool, which will then be piloted across twelve rural health services or community sites in Victoria and Tasmania.

Potential Impact: The study will assist our understanding of rural pharmacist recruitment and retention, while delivering unique site-specific reports on how to improve this issue at the community level. The overall impact will improve patient outcomes, service efficiencies, and sustainability, while addressing under-appreciated health workforce issues that are just as important to the health of a rural community.