One of Only Two Medical Institutions in the U.S. to Test Ventilator

Medical experts from the Simulation Center at Cook County Health have partnered with a world-renowned team of physicists and engineers from Fermilab to help test a newly developed ventilator, which is in the final stages of emergency FDA approval.

Cook County Health is one of only two medical institutions in the U.S. and one of only a handful in the world to help test the technology.

The new ventilator is part of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano project (MVM), which is a multinational collaboration to design and build a portable, low-cost, open-source ventilator that is still capable of the most precise functions, but that can be quickly produced using commonly available parts.

“CCH is proud to be partnering with world-renowned experts to test a ventilator that can have immediate and significant impact on critical care for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Michelle Sergel, Director of the CCH Simulation Center, who led efforts to host testing for the MVM in the U.S. “A low cost yet fully capable ventilator will be able to help meet the global demand as the pandemic spreads across the rest of the world.”

“Mechanical ventilation is used to help critically ill patients breathe when other treatments are insufficient for providing oxygenation,” said Dr. Renaud Gueret, Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at CCH. “The MVM collaboration is a great international effort to provide and test a low-cost, mechanical ventilator in times of shortage of a lifesaving treatment.”

The modular design can also be adapted to swap out parts based on their availability in different regions of the world. In addition, the MVM is specifically targeted to COVID-19 patients, offering two key modes — full ventilation and gentler breathing support — available at the push of a single button. Most traditional ventilators require pressing half a dozen buttons or toggling between different operating modes to accomplish the same thing.

There have been myriad efforts from many universities and companies to ramp up production of ventilators to ease potential shortages during the pandemic.

The MVM project started with physicists in Italy who were living through a spike of the pandemic there and hearing from doctors about the technical demands the disease placed on ventilators.

The MVM is being tested at CCH utilizing the most advanced technology breathing simulator called the ASL 5000 Lung Solution. The ASL 5000 lung simulator can receive a ventilator in any mode at almost any range and can transmit real life feedback to the ventilator. This allows for accuracy in testing ventilators prior to patient use. The ASL 5000 can simulate almost any type of lung disease and help medical providers with the best ways to treat it.

The machine received fast-tracked approval on May 1 from the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States. It will be made by an Italian manufacturer, Elemaster.