When it comes to the coronavirus, ventilators are a critical aspect of support for those suffering from some of the most severe complications of the disease. So, a group of old colleagues got together and decided to do something about it and established Co-Vents, a nonprofit organization dedicated to refurbishing older ventilators and getting them back into active service.

Co-Vents started with a simple idea. What if older ventilators that remain mostly forgotten in hospital storage areas or designated for hospitals overseas could be refurbished to help support efforts against the coronavirus? Co-Founded by Paul Woodring and Michael Raymer (author’s father), who both have decades of experience with ventilators and health care software, got together and recruited a group of old colleagues to see if they could use their expertise and experience to help communities across the country.

“Our team could not stand by and watch patients suffer without ICU ventilators,” Woodring said in a press release. “Over the past three decades, we have designed, built, manufactured and sold the leading ventilators in the world. We have assembled an all-star roster from those businesses to help fill this 90-day ventilator gap for our country while new ventilator production ramps up.”

Ventilators work by “gently pumping air through a breathing tube into the patient’s lungs and allows the patient to exhale. This gives patients oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, which can damage the patient’s organs if not expelled. In some cases, air with higher oxygen content is used. Settings (on the ventilator) are tailored to patient need.”

It’s something usually used as a last resort if the patient is struggling to breath on their own. Part of the problem the coronavirus creates is that it attacks and can damage the lungs. For most patients, this isn’t much of an issue, but for others it can lead to death. The ventilators are a critical aspect of this supportive care, but there just aren’t enough of these machines to meet the needs of patients.

In response, some businesses are even switching their production lines from things like cars to ventilators. The Coronavirus Task Force recently entered into an agreement with General Motors to deliver 30,000 ventilators by August. But that end date is months away, and potentially thousands of Americans could die waiting for those ventilators to come off the assembly line. And what if those new machines, which haven’t been market tested, are recalled for some reason because of a mistake in manufactoring?

That’s where Co-Vents comes in.

To make sure that hospitals have access to all of the machines that they need, the organization is dedicated to meeting the short-term needs of the American public by refurbishing qualified ventilators to meet the needs of communities across the country, especially rural hospitals that may not have any ventilators on hand.

The goal is to refurbish about 2,500-5,000 ventilators, and Co-Vents has the direct support of the White House Coronavirus Task Force for this endeavor. The organization’s request for a 501c3 designation was even expedited upon the direct request of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, which is working to coordinate efforts with the Task Force, to support its effort.

Though the whole process has already been a great success, for those working at Co-Vents it’s about doing what they can in their area of expertise to help support coronavirus efforts.

“We were just horrified at the scene in New York about the shortage of ventilators in the country,” Co-Founder Michael Raymer said in an interview. “We felt like we had to do something. People are going to be impacted. It might even be one of our family members. So, we want to do everything we can to step in and fill the gap.”


Follow Brittany on Twitter @brittanyraymer.


Photo from Co-Vents