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The Irish manufacturer Combilift, best known for its range of space-saving forklifts and other handling solutions, has drawn on its expertise in engineering and software design to develop the Combi-Ventilate, a splitter device which turns one ventilator into multiple ventilation stations.

Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Moffett Co-Founder & Technical Director, Combilift, Martin McVicar, Co-Founder & CEO, Combilift, Antonio Patacho, Combilift.

Designed to address the requirements of medical professionals in the current Covid-19 emergency, the Combi-Ventilate was developed by a team of mechatronic and software engineers in the past five weeks and a unit is currently undergoing laboratory tests with Ger Curley, Professor of Anaesthesia & Critical Care at Royal College of Surgeon’s in Beaumont Hospital.

Martin McVicar, CEO and co-founder Combilift said: “Certain countries and cities are struggling to get enough ventilators and many governments and health authorities are encouraging manufacturers to come up with a solution, as did the HSE in Ireland. Instead of actually developing ventilators we analysed what is really required, as we do in our usual business models.”

The Combi-Ventilate uses standard pipes and fittings for easy assembly and its individual patient filters prevent cross contamination. Each patient has a dedicated screen which allows medical professionals to individually monitor their vital information. This includes live values, data on patient history and statistics and adjustable alarm settings. Features include non-return valves, HEPA filters, flow sensors and an automatic flow control valve. Any abnormalities that occur are detected and will only trigger that specific patient’s alarm. The Combi-Ventilate has automatically adjustable flow control valves which allow the health service professional control the tidal volume to each patient electronically without having to make manual adjustments.

“When we are developing equipment, we listen closely to our customers in order to perfect and improve the product. This approach in our collaboration with the HSE is what has got us where we are today. This is very much designed as an attachment which can be added to any brand of ventilator. It costs a fraction of a standard ventilator and can be installed very easily into an ICU unit environment. We have made Combi-Ventilate with the same objective as we do with all our products – which is all about doing more with less,” said McVicar.

Dr Michael Power, National Clinical Lead, Critical Care Programme Irish health service said: “The Combi-Ventilate is a valuable attachment for ventilators for use in an ICU setting in that unwanted scenario where you only have one ventilator for multiple patients. It removes that horrible dilemma. It is an engineered solution which delivers the correct volume of air to each patient safely and reliably. The Combi-Ventilate project is an example of a collaboration between the engineering and the manufacturing industry and the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is an agile project, completed in 5 weeks.”

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