The coronavirus pandemic at one point caused medical staff at the largest hospital network in New York to repair ventilators using garden hoses and other hardware store products. The move to use unconventional materials to fix medical equipment they had received from the state resulted in the need to make them work.
Unconventional repair methods
The incident forced Northwell Health to decide to purchase its own medical supplies and equipment to remove its dependence on products from China or other governments to save people's lives.
According to the New York Post, Executive Director Michael Dowling of Northwell Health wrote they would work to have a robust stockpile of medical equipment such as ventilators to reduce their reliance on China. The official noted the overdependence on foreign supplies was a dangerous gamble.
Dowling said Northwell Health management is considering acquiring a supply company to provide a self-sufficient method of medical equipment that is vital to patients.
The newly published 187-page book "Leading Through a Pandemic" that Dowling co-wrote along with Northwell's Chief Journalist/Editor Charles Kenney is considered to be the first-ever major publication written by medical front-liners who experienced the devastating impact of the coronavirus in New York where more than 32,000 lives have been lost.
The 23 hospitals that are part of Northwell's network have treated approximately 70,000 coronavirus patients, much more than anywhere else in the United States.
Despite the success, however, medical staff have been ravaged by the scarcity of proper equipment. Some executives wrote that when supply arrived from the government, they usually came lacking the necessary parts to make them work.
Hospital staff at one point were forced to go out to hardware stores and purchase garden hoses in an attempt to fix the ventilators by cutting them up and attaching them to the machines.
The book writes that medical staff also created 3D-printed parts to manufacture makeshift breathing apparatus and nasal swabs used to test patients for the coronavirus.
Simple but effective
Previously, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) built makeshift ventilators using supplies found at any local hardware store, as reported by Clarion Ledger.
A pediatric anesthesiologist at UMMC, Dr Charles Robertson was the one who came up with the idea and said he aimed to make the simplest ventilator that can be made with the parts found in any city. He added it would not need special tools to be built as it can be put together quickly whenever it is needed.
Dr Robertson said the machine was made of a garden hose, a lamp timer, and an electronic valve. The medical expert called the apparatus the "Robertson Ventilator" and can be made using parts that cost less than $100 and are quickly made in about 20 to 30 minutes.
In a news conference, Dr Robertson demonstrated the functionality of the machine and how it is built. During the showcasing, the innovator hooked the ventilator to a mannequin, showing how the doll's chest rose and fell with the machine running.
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