Mar 26, 2020 - Health

New Prisma Health device expands ventilator support to four patients

Hospital doctors being instructed to handle a ventilator. Photo: Axel Heimken/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Prisma Health, the largest nonprofit health group in South Carolina, announced Wednesday that it's developed a device that will enable one ventilator to support up to four patients being treated for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Ventilators are critical in helping patients in the most severe cases of COVID-19 to breathe. But they're in short supply as demand grows, with the number of coronavirus cases increasing as U.S. testing capacity expands. The virus had killed more than 1,000 people and infected 69,000 others in the U.S. by late Wednesday.

Details: The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the Prisma Health 3D-printed device, called the VESper, which the firm said in a statement was developed with "material already in use for medical devices and produced at minimal cost."

What they're saying: Peter Tilkemeier, chair of medicine at Prisma Health-Upstate, said rapid rises in patients requiring machine-assisted breathing can cause an "acute shortage" of necessary equipment overnight.

  • The VESper "can be lifesaving when the number of critically ill patients requiring breathing support is greater than the number of available ventilators," he added. "A number of U.S. hospitals are likely to begin experiencing this with COVID-19."

Go deeper: American manufacturing vs. the coronavirus

Editor’s note: The headline has been corrected to reflect that Prisma Health created a ventilator expansion device (not a new ventilator).

Go deeper

American manufacturing vs. the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's new goalpost: Build tens of thousands of ventilators and assemble and reuse billions of face masks in the next few weeks to ward off some of the worst-case scenarios from the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: We need to give medical professionals, first responders and essential personnel (like grocery store staff) every possible tool to treat the ill and avoid getting sick.

Go deeperArrowMar 24, 2020 - Health

Trump appoints Peter Navarro to enforce Defense Production Act

President Trump briefs reporters with the White House coronavirus task force on March 26. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was appointed as the Trump administration's point man to enforce the Defense Production Act on Friday, after President Trump authorized the use of the DPA to direct General Motors to build ventilators for patients affected by the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: America's hospitals, doctors and nurses have urged Trump since last week to use the DPA to ramp up the country's domestic production of medical supplies crucial for health care workers, saying "there will not be enough medical supplies" without it.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 hours ago - Health

3D printing can help, but won't solve, the coronavirus equipment shortage

A Ford worker unloads face shield parts from a 3D printer. (Photo: Ford)

The nationwide shortage of medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic seems like a breakthrough opportunity for 3D printing technology. But in this urgent crisis, its uses are limited.

Why it matters: America needs to manufacture tens of thousands of ventilators and billions of face masks and other protective gear in the next few weeks, and then distribute them in a hurry to hospitals around the country to ward off the worst-case public health scenarios.

Go deeperArrowMar 26, 2020 - Health