Coronavirus inspires NY hospital system to make backup ventilators from sleep apnea machines

Northwell Health converted its fleet of Philips Respironics V60 BiPAP machines into respirators

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox.  Sign up here.

Continue Reading Below

Doctors at New York-based Northwell Health made extra ventilators from breathing machines for people with conditions like sleep apnea and shared instructions online Tuesday.

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.

REUSING N-95 MASKS IN CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC POSSIBLE WITH THIS TECHNOLOGY

"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.

UNDER ARMOUR WILL MAKE CORONAVIRUS PROTECTIVE GEAR FOR MARYLAND HOSPITAL WORKERS

"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.

Drs. Stanley John, Hugh Cassiere and Todd Goldstein collaborated on turning BiPAP machines into backup ventilators. Photo: Northwell Health

Northwell's announcement comes as companies, including Ford and General Motors, race to make ventilators for patients in hard-hit New York City and beyond.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
PHGKONINKLIJKE PHILIPS N.V.50.75-0.03-0.06%

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.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

"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.

Drs. Stanley John, Hugh Cassiere and Todd Goldstein collaborated on turning BiPAP machines into backup ventilators and fitting them with 3D-printed adaptors (pictured). Photo: Northwell Health

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.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE