Italy has been hit especially hard during the coronavirus epidemic. Hospitals in the virus epicenter of Lombardy have been overwhelmed and staff is stretched to the limit. To help keep both workers and patients safe, one is turning to artificial intelligence.
Meet Tommy the Robot. He’s been working at the Circolo Hospital in Varese. The child-size robot wheels in and out hospital rooms to interact and monitor patients. He also relays data from equipment in the room to the hospital staff. An onboard touch-screen allows patients and doctors to communicate via recorded messages.
Tommy is one of six new robots at the hospital. The robots help limit contact with doctors and nurses, thus reducing the risk of infection. Along with freeing up human staff to deal with more serious cases, the robots also help conserve the use of protective masks and gowns.
Italian Hospital Robots Can Work Around the Clock
Tommy and the other robots have one major advantage over their human counterparts. They can work around the clock without exhaustion. A quick charge of batteries and they are back at work in the ward.
“It’s like having another nurse without problems related to infection,” said Doctor Francesco Dentali, director of intensive care at the hospital.
At first, the robots can be a confusing site at Circolo Hospital. For some patients, the robots are taking a bit of getting used to.
“The first reaction is not positive, especially for old patients. But if you explain your aim, the patient is happy because he or she can speak with the doctor,” said Dentali.