FORKLIFT manufacturer Combilift has developed a splitter system for ventilators that could allow the HSE to double its ability to manage the most critical Covid-19 patients.
The HSE and Government welcomed today's launch of the Combi-Ventilate system, which engineers at the Monaghan-based firm spent five weeks developing as a way to multiply the life-sustaining capability of a ventilator.
Combi-Ventilate turns a ventilator for one patient into a control hub for the separate regulation of breathing and vitals monitoring for two or more patients.
Ger Curley, a professor of anaesthesia and critical care at the Royal College of Surgeons who is testing the device at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said it is more sophisticated than other ventilator-splitting systems because it provides separate controls and information for each patient.
Dr Michael Power, clinical lead for the HSE's critical care programme, called it "a safe and reliable attachment for ventilators for use in an ICU setting in that unwanted scenario where you have one ventilator for multiple patients. It removes that horrible dilemma".
Combilift chief executive Martin McVicar said his firm will sell Combi-Ventilate units at no profit and sees strong export potential.
"Certain countries and cities are struggling to get enough ventilators and many governments and health authorities are encouraging manufacturers to come up with a solution, as did the HSE in Ireland," Mr McVicar said.
"Instead of actually developing ventilators, we analysed what is really required," he said. "This is very much designed as an attachment which can be added to any brand of ventilator. It costs a fraction of a standard ventilator and can be installed very easily into an ICU unit environment."