Better way to field ventilators fast: Refurbish old machines

By Lee Teschler | April 13, 2020

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A shortage of respiratory ventilators in the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to numerous well-meaning ventures that include assembly lines converted from autos to ventilators and a DIY ventilator open-source home-project craze. But neither of these approaches are likely to do much for getting ventilators fielded fast enough to help with flu patients. GM and Ford, for example, expect to produce 80,000 ventilators by late summer, a number exceeding the estimated total now in U.S. hospitals. But experts say a late-summer delivery date won’t help with the COVID-19 patient surge expected to hit in mid to late spring.

A better approach, say a group of veteran ventilator builders, is to refurbish old decommissioned ventilators tucked away in dark corners of hospital storage rooms.

That’s the idea behind a not-for-profit corporation called Co-Vents, formed to obtain and repair ventilators during the pandemic. The founders have six FDA-approved and ISO-certified ventilator service centers lined up in New Jersey, Tenn., Calif., Ill. and Georgia. Co-Vents says it is looking for decommissioned Puritan Bennett, Philips/Respironics and CareFusion critical care ventilators to refurbish. If it gets a ventilator that is beyond repair, it will use the machine for parts.h

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