BC group tracks 3D printers in province as COVID-19 crisis continues

WatchAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so does the strain on the healthcare system, and supplies. And it's expected that hospitals will have single-use medical equipment shortages of all kinds, including items for ventilators and masks.

Duncan-based Live Edge Design creates works of wooden art.

Its artists’ designs are unique, and intricate. marketing manager Donna Shaw said the company is well-known.

“We usually make big, beautiful pieces of custom furniture,” Shaw said. But when they heard about the possible shortage of ventilators on Vancouver Island, they pivoted, help create part of the team behind Project Draw a Breath.

“I”m most excited about the ventilator equipment that we’re creating. That includes a ventilator screen that will enable doctors to treat more than one patient on a ventilator machine,” Shaw said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, “printing” a piece of medical equipment may save lives. The concern is as the number of people hospitalized with the virus increases, so does the strain on the system, potentially leading to critical shortages.

Eric Gauf is coordinating efforts through the Crisis Rapid Prototyping Society to organize information on available local 3D printers. It’s anticipated that hospitals will have single-use medical equipment shortages of all kinds, and 3D printers can help minimize the disruption to patient care – if the health authorities know where to find them.

“Instead of large-scale manufacturing capacity, we could make pieces as needed in the area that needs it. So if we run short in Kamloops, we can connect Kamloops with Interior Health. They can help solve that shortage. Whatever that piece is,” Gauf said.

On Monday, BC’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the Ministry of Health is now evaluating each individual offer of help.  ”

3D printing of visors is something I know they’re looking at, and looking at what types of volume we could do. Because it is a very important, critical piece to protect health care workers,” Henry said.

Shaw says they printed first ventilator splitter valves on Monday. Now they are just waiting to test them, and hopefully, get them into use when they are needed.

READ MORE: Number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. passes 1,000 with death toll at 24

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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