BUFFALO, N.Y. — With ventilators in short supply, engineers from across the country are trying to figure out solutions to help those battling COVID-19. General Motors and Ford have said that they'll start producing ventilators at various manufacturing facilities.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he'll reopen the Buffalo Gigafactory to start producing ventilators. Tesla has failed to respond to multiple attempts for clarification on that plan.
Meanwhile, a Buffalo startup called Rapid Medical Parts has been given a provisional patent by the United States Patent Office. The patent is for components that would upgrade a CPAP or BiPAP machine to be used as a fully functioning ventilator. The Department of Defense has awarded Rapid Medical Parts a contract to further develop the components as well as fast track FDA approval.
"It's just the Apollo 13 right, we got so much time, and then we don't," said Col. James Regenor, CEO of Rapid Medical Parts.
The company is an offshoot of another company he operates and he developed the idea while driving back from Boston before the COVID-19 shutdowns.
"Rapid Medical Parts was put together to manufacturer sustainment parts for hospital equipment, figuring that they would be max performing their equipment during this crisis," Regenor said. "We went from idea to creating a new ventilator, to getting provisional patents, and getting a government contract in 12 days."
The components that RMP is developing connect to a CPAP or BiPAP machine and, in a sense, upgrade them to become ventilators that are in short supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It would be like putting a turbo system in your car so you can get more horsepower out," Regenor said.
Regenor says that he's hoping to have these units in hospitals by mid-May so they can start helping COVID-19 patients.