Ventilator project targets equipment shortages

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Friday, April 24, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Absolute Respiratory Care is part of a group helping to collect CPAP and bi-level machines for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients as part of VentilatorProject.Org.

Dana Lesperance, director of marketing and sales for the Johnston, R.I.-based company, hopes the initial 120 machines are just the start.

“Health care systems are so short on everything,” he said. “It’s exciting to able to be a part of this, from a donation (of equipment) standpoint and donation of time, as well.”

Lesperance got involved with the effort after being contacted by Alex Hornstein, founder of VentilatorProject.Org, and co-founder and CTO of a technology company not related to health care.

Hornstein saw a use for the approximately 2.9 million sleep apnea machines currently sitting unused in American homes.

“There are so many machines around and people get new devices all the time,” he said. “We’re in a respiratory crisis. There are uses for these devices, and as more doctors share new ideas (on how to use these for treating COVID-19), we are starting to collect them in one place.”

Ventilatorproject.org is working with other organizations, including the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Health, as well as fire stations, where the donated machines are collected.

For his part, Lesperance is advisingvolunteers on how to sanitize, refurbish and test the devices. Processes are documented on a laminated card that is attached to the machine to instruct hospital staff who may be unfamiliar with devices typically used in the home.

Response has been positive so far, and Lesperance expects that to increase.

“I think we are going to see an outpouring of donations from patients,” he said. “My wife and I shared this on our personal Facebook and already had people contacting us. And our industry is always willing to step up.”