New York will convert anesthesia devices to fans for coronavirus patients in an attempt to make up for the impending shortage of life-saving devices, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
The state has become the epicenter of the US epidemic of COVID-19, with more than 37,258 people testing positive for the virus.
Of those 1290 are located on state-wide ICUs, where they need fans to support their failing lungs for as long as 21 days. Hospitals in New York have already ‘split’ their fans so that one machine supports two patients.
This week, the federal government sent 400 fans to New York City, which is the vast majority of the state’s affairs, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has said thousands will be needed ahead of the expected outbreak summit in the coming weeks.
Although not approved by the FDA for long-term support, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) says anesthesia fans are an obvious first-line backup during the COVID-19 pandemic when there are not enough ICU fans to address the patient care. ‘
A small shipment of ventilators was sent to New York City, but both the city and the surrounding state are already trying to expand their offering by having two patients use one machine and converting the anesthesia machine into fans.
New York City is both the epicenter of the state and the country, with more than 21,000 people diagnosed with coroan virus
Cuomo has said that New York has between 3,000 and 4,000 fans.
He expects it will take between 30,000 and 40,000 fans to support critically ill coronavirus patients at the height of the epidemic in the state.
After the initial delivery of 400 fans, the federal government promised New York 4,000 more machines.
But that still won’t be enough – especially if the cases continue to soar at a rapid rate – to save the lives of the sickest New Yorkers.
When asked about fans in New York, Cuomo bluntly said there was no stock large enough to meet the needs of the state, but every option to get the devices was pursued.
“We’re talking to the federal government about more fans, we’re looking for more fans, we’re splitting fans, we’re turning anesthesia fans into regular fans,” he said.
So we are everywhere on the issue of fans, but the number of fans we need is so astronomical that it is not likely [the federal government agencies] leave them in a warehouse.
“They do what we do, namely find those fans or convert those fans, or convince companies to make those fans.”
The state has already begun to ‘split’ fans, meaning health workers connect two coronavirus patients to one machine between their adjacent beds.
Anesthesia machines like this are equipped to support breathing, but are usually not intended for long-term use. Cuomo said that COVID-19 patients may require 21 days of ventilation
The Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation said the machines are obvious backup options for COVID-19 patients, but they will need trained anesthetists to properly set them up to function as fans (file)
Now, Cuomo says, there are doctors who convert anesthesia machines that are intended to keep people unconscious during surgeries, to keep COVID-19 patients alive.
Anesthesia machines are equipped with the same type of fans used in ICUs.
Typically, the machine component ensures that a patient breathes regularly during procedures, rather than doing it for days on end, as many COVID-19 patients require.
But they effectively work the same way: a tube is squeezed through the patient’s windpipe and the machine steadily pumps oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from their lungs.
Anticipating this backup plan, the APSF published guidelines for the reuse of anesthesia machines as fans.
They noted that the machines can be found in hospital operating rooms and more in private medical offices or surgical centers.
Estimating the number of ICU fans in the state has been challenging enough for government officials, and there is no record of how many anesthesia devices are spread across New York.
However, with all the non-essential surgeries canceled last week, there are likely many that are underused or underused.
“Anesthesia professionals will be required to commission and manage these machines during use,” the APSF said in its guidance.
“Safe and effective use requires an understanding of the capabilities of the available machines, the differences between anesthesia machines and ICU fans, and how to set anesthesia machine controls to mimic ICU-type ventilation strategies.”
That suggests that anesthesiologists may now be among the health workers essential to fight for the survival of New York’s coronavirus patients.