Respiratory treatment in hospitals is administered on a continuum depending on level of treatment required by the patient. Generally, the simplest form is facemask oxygen or high-flow nasal cannula which has nozzles that are place in/below the nose directing oxygen into the nostrils.
More sophisticated treatments are non invasive ventilation treatments, namely Constant Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) with critically ill patients requiring intensive care Invasive Ventilator Treatment administered by accredited Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff.
The goal is to treat hypoxia early and break the inflammatory cycle and lung damage which occurs. This gives the patient’s immune system time to fight the virus without having to also deal with hypoxia.
COVID-19 has resulted in a common scenario globally, where approximately 6% – 10% of people infected by the virus require respiratory support treatment. About two-thirds of these patients don’t recover from standard oxygen treatment alone and deteriorate to the point where they require ICU Invasive ventilator treatment.
It was clear that ICU ventilator capacity in South Africa was constrained by the availability of skilled ICU staff and traditional mechanical ventilators. Supplying additional ICU ventilators was unlikely to adequately respond to the anticipated increase in demand required to treat patients due to COVID-19. Clearly an alternative solution was required.
Our initial goal was to design standalone mechanical non-invasive ventilation solutions that could be used by general nursing staff. This has expanded to include a number of innovative respiratory solutions.