Prisma Health Develops New Technology

Increases Ventilator Capacity for COVID-19 Patients

Matthew Causey
March 25, 2020 - 5:57 pm
the new "VESper" device attached to a ventilator machine

Provided by Prisma Health

Prisma Health announced Wednesday the development of an innovative device to let one ventilator function for four separate coronavirus patients at once.

History shows that times of crisis can lead to some of the most innovative developments, and this is a perfect example.

As many hospitals have reached capacity on ventilators available to help treat patients of the coronavirus, a new tool that allows a single ventilator to support up to four separate patients has been created by a Prisma Health medicine physician.

Ventilators are an important tool in treating patients with respiratory diseases such as the coronavirus, so this was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“When we see rapid increase in patients who require machine-assisted breathing, an acute shortage of necessary equipment can happen overnight,” said Peter Tilkemeier, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at Prisma Health-Upstate.

And with combined efforts of the medicine physician, her software engineer husband and a Prisma Health pulmonary critical care physician, they developed a simple but effective “Y” splitter tubing device to allow respirators to be used by multiple patients.

This splitter was developed with the goal of meeting international quality standards, being easy to produce, would filter bacteria and viruses, would be strong and impact resistant and would not impact the care and treatment of other patients sharing the same machine.

And they succeeded, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving the use of the device during times of “acute equipment shortages such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This is an exemplary demonstration of rapid innovation and collaboration,” said Mark O’Halla, president and chief executive officer of Prisma health. “I am so proud of the creativity and perseverance of our clinical team who came together to develop a potentially life-saving solution at a critical time for our country, our communities and our patients.”

The device, now branded “THE VESper”, had specifications sent to Clemson and USC for 3D materials testing and the printing of prototypes. The device was tested and successfully developed to meet the desired specifications.

Now, hospitals around the country can start applying to receive the source code and printing specifications for the device for free at Prisma Health’s website.

Prisma Health is also collaborating with companies and businesses to produce and distribute the device to the areas of greatest need.

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