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The health system, which has 23 hospitals in New York, has not run out of ventilators but wants to be prepared for a possible "mega-tsunami" of coronavirus cases, Dr. Hugh Cassiere, who worked on the technology, told FOX Business.
"The state government has been very helpful distributing ventilators not just to our health system but to others," Cassiere said. "You can quickly deplete your supply. You thought you had enough ventilators, now you don't."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned the innovation as one of a "number of options" during a press conference Tuesday.
"Northwell developed an idea to use a BiPAP machine," Cuomo said. "We've ordered 7,000 of those. ... We're working and figuring it out."
Cassiere said another doctor in the system has used the converted machines to save lives.
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Cassiere, who is the medical director for respiratory therapy services at North Shore University Hospital, described the conversion as a last-ditch option.
"You have two alternatives: The patient dies or you think of something else," he said. "This is the something else."
Cassiere and his colleagues at Northwell converted their fleet of Philips Respironics V60 BiPAP machines into respirators by adding 3D-printed adapters so patients can be intubated and particulate air filters.
"Everything that needs to be done is built into that machine. That's one of the reasons why we put in the press release this particular machine with the pressure control option," Cassiere said.
Many health systems are sharing their innovations in hopes of helping patients and health care workers across the country. For example, researchers from Duke Health are spreading the word about a new way to decontaminate N-95 masks, key personal protective equipment that's been in short supply as the number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the U.S. grows.