Spectrum Health Innovations and partners produce breathing support device

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By combining an airtight scuba facemask with a medical-grade filtration system, the kit reduces the risk of the patient's exhalation spreading the virus through the atmosphere, helping to protect frontline health care professionals. Courtesy Spectrum Health Innovations

Spectrum Health Innovations, Rapids Venture and Ghost House Technology joined forces to produce an alternative breathing support device for COVID-19 patients in just 10 days.

The Emergency Ventilator Kit designed by Ghost House Technology is not a replacement for traditional ventilators, but a precisely engineered device that attaches to various CPAP machines already in a hospital’s inventory to provide emergency breathing relief for patients.

By combining an airtight scuba facemask with a medical-grade filtration system, the kit reduces the risk of the patient’s exhalation spreading the virus through the atmosphere, helping to protect frontline health care professionals.

“Our goal was to provide health care workers a safer alternative to administer noninvasive breathing support without exposing themselves to the potential risk of a patient’s exhalation aerosolizing the virus,” said David Stout, CEO of Ghost House Technology.

Spectrum Health Innovations engineers were searching for new approaches and solutions that can assist the Spectrum Health system and other hospitals across the nation during this critical time. They were able to provide clinical validation by working alongside pulmonologists, respiratory therapists and nurses, as well as material guidance and sourcing recommendations.

“Our team had been actively searching for breathing support back-up solutions in the event our system’s needs outstripped our reserve of mechanical ventilators,” said Aaron Schaap, innovation lead, Spectrum Health Innovations. “Our engineers recognized the potential of the initial design and immediately jumped into action, alongside our community partners, to bring this concept to fruition in less than two weeks.”

Rapids Venture coordinated the resources necessary to iterate, test and refine the design while setting up production capable of assembling several hundred units per week.

“We immediately recognized the great value of what a low-cost breathing support alternative could provide to overwhelmed hospital systems, but only if we could create it with easy-to-find materials and with an easy-to-assemble design,” said James Meeks, co-founder and managing partner of Rapids Venture. “We also understood that to pull off a design-build while racing against the clock of peak-COVID, we needed to pull in our region’s community of innovators, manufacturers, engineers and health care professionals to make it happen.”

Given the decreased forecast of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the West Michigan area, Spectrum Health Innovations is seeking to share their experiences and discoveries with hospital systems that are currently experiencing peak-COVID-19.

Rapids Venture coordinated local production for the Emergency Ventilator Kit with partners that specialize in assembly and manufacturing. In the event of any capacity constraints, Ghost House Technology has open-sourced the design, and Rapids Venture is willing to coach any certified manufacturer on how to produce the kit in quantity for their local hospital systems at no cost.

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