A breath of fresh air
With concerns running high in early 2020 about the implications of a major COVID-19 outbreak for New Zealand health services and supplies, a Dunedin initiative designed a ventilator hood for local production. The hood is intended for COVID-19 patients to wear to help them to breathe, reducing potential demand for full ventilation while helping with recovery.
A multidisciplinary team worked together on development including design and prototyping. Otago Polytechnic Senior Lecturer Andrew Wallace and William Early, one of our EPICentre technicians, worked with former Scott Technology chief executive Chris Hopkins and mechanical engineers Mark Seaton and Richard Aimers. Clinicians were consulted and local companies involved in producing the required parts, many of which are 3D printed. The work was carried out under urgency, beginning during Level 4 lockdown in March/April 2020 with approval as "essential work" by the Ministry of Health.
SouthMED Ltd has been established to obtain regulatory approvals then manufacture the ventilator hoods and supply them to hospitals. These products will help ensure New Zealand hospitals are not limited by availability of ventilators in treating COVID-19 patients here. Some of the Dunedin-made hoods have been sent to Nepal for use there.