The world is in a global shortage of ventilators. There are currently about 200,000 ventilators in the United States, but 1 million patients may need one of these life-saving technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every ventilator company is scaling up production to fulfill this dire need. To scale up production, ventilator medical device companies are partnering with large scale manufactures to overcome bottlenecks in supply chain. One such collaboration is between Ventec and General Motors.
In this post, I’ll describe some of the features of the VOCSN ventilator. The main advantage of this medical device is that it can perform five distinct respiratory functions at the same time – ventilation, oxygenation, cough support, suction, and nebulzation.
A hands on demonstration is available here:
The VOCSN device is at its core a full-functioning ventilator, which has all the standard settings of a ventilator (i.e. mode of ventilation, respiration rate, end expiratory pressure, etc). A couple benefits of this ventilation device are that it is portable with a weight of only 18 pounds) and battery-powered with 9 hours of internal battery power.
The additional features of the VOCSN device are what make it so attractive.
This device has an internal oxygen concentrator that can deliver 6 L/min of oxygen, but can also be connected to an external high or low pressure source. I’m not sure how much we are in critical demand of oxygen tanks, but the VOCSN ventilator wastes less oxygen compared to other ventilators (Pangillnan et al. Respiratory Care 2019).
This device also has cough-support. This features simulates a cough in a patient by rapidly alternating a inspiratory air pressure followed by an expiratory air pressure. Cough reflexes help patients clear mucus and debris in their airways. Intubated patients with COVID-19 have a suppressed cough reflex, so including this feature will help someone breathe better.
The VOCSN device also has in-built suction. When someone has COVID-19 pneumonia, he or she has increased mucus in their airways. In the hospital, intubated patients have suctioning devices to suck up any mucus that may prevent air from going into the lungs. This in-built feature prevents the need for another device and will decrease the amount of viral particles that can become airborne and infect others.
Finally, the VOCSN device has an in-built nebulizer. Patients with COPD or asthma often need inhaled steroids and airway dilation medication to decrease inflammation and prevent their airways from collapsing.
VOCSN for COVID-19
Normal respiratory support for someone suffering from respiratory failure due to COVID-19 includes a ventilator, oxygen tank, cough-assist device, suction, and nebulizer.
These together are 55 pounds, require lots of nursing and physician time, and increase the risk of cross-infection. The biggest benefit of VOCSN is that it is one machine, easy-to-use, and light-weight.
The biggest challenge for this device is that it includes so many different parts, as seen below. If any of these parts are missing or delayed, the entire ventilator production supply will also lag. For example, one of the parts in this device was made in a factory in India, but the Indian government quarantined the entire region, thus stalling production. This is where General Motors used its expertise in supply chain manufacturing to overcome this issue.
I am extremely hopeful that the Ventec-General Motors collaboration can ramp up ventilator production. These devices are life-saving and we need them now.