Sandia National Labs helping state’s need for ventilators

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexicans have heard projections about when health officials expect a surge of coronavirus cases to hit the state and how many ventilators we’ll be short. So what is the state doing about it?

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that so far, roughly 44 percent of patients needing hospital care for COVID-19 in New Mexico also need a ventilator, so the state is working to try and meet that need.

“Our relationship with the federal government, while that can be tense, we’re working on every approval necessary that protects New Mexicans to the highest degree,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said during Friday’s online news conference.

Currently, state governments are already fighting to get more ventilators for their communities.

New York, the pandemic epicenter in the U.S., just received 1,000 ventilators from China, and states like Oregon and California are sending more.

In New Mexico, health officials said they expect coronavirus cases to peak around the third week of April to the first week of May.

As of Friday, Gov. Lujan Grisham said 18 people were on ventilators in New Mexico. They anticipate needing 1,629 ventilators during that peak, about 1,000 more than the state currently has.

The governor said places like Sandia National Labs and the Air Force Research laboratories are working quickly to help out.

“What’s called non-invasive ventilators is kind of our initial thing that we’re working with, so those are something that’s very much like a ventilator, except for some would use a mask rather than being intubated,” explained Ryan Haggerty, Senior Manager at Sandia National Labs.

Haggerty said they’re working to fast-track FDA approval for their medical devices to distribute them to local hospitals.

Sandia Labs is also working on what’s called a ‘system independent alarm.’

“That provides the necessary alarms for like modified ventilator equipment, so that if the tube gets clogged, or if it gets disconnected from the patient, or if the power drops, that the nurses and doctors are alerted more quickly,” Haggerty explained.

He said Los Alamos, as well as other Department of Energy labs, have efforts in the works to help provide needed medical equipment.

The governor’s office says they’re in the process of formally requesting additional resources, including several hundred ventilators, through FEMA.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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