Medtronic plans to make its Galway plant a 24/7 operation to meet the growing global demand for ventilators.
Irish-headquartered medical device company Medtronic has increased the production of its ventilators by more than 40pc in response to the global Covid-19 crisis, and is on track to more than double its capacity to manufacture and supply vital equipment.
At its Galway facility, the company has more than 250 employees dedicated to ventilator manufacturing, but it plans to double that figure to meet the increased demand.
Ventilators play an important role in treating patients with severe cases of Covid-19, and there is currently a shortage of ventilators in intensive care units in many parts of the world. These devices enable patients who cannot breathe effectively to recover while oxygen is supplied to the body through the machines, which stimulate breathing.
Demand has ‘far outstripped supply’
Bob White, executive vice-president and Medtronic Minimally Invasive Therapies group president, said: “Medtronic recognises the demand for ventilators in this environment has far outstripped supply. No single company will be able to fill the current demands of global healthcare systems.
“However, with all manufacturers increasing their production and through partnerships with governments, hospitals and global health organisations, Medtronic is committed to getting more ventilators into the market and to the right locations in the world to help doctors and patients dealing with Covid-19.”
To meet the demand, Medtronic has introduced new shift patterns and will now make its Galway facility a 24/7 operation.
According to RTÉ, there are currently 1,229 ventilators available in Ireland. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has ordered an additional 900 new ventilators for Irish patients, some of which will be delivered by the end of March.
The HSE recently told Prime Time that there is a current capacity of 255 ICU beds in Ireland and a further 51 critical care beds have been approved by the Government.
Other efforts to meet the demand
This week, we spoke to Colin Keogh, one of the team members behind the Irish Open Source Ventilator project, which is trying to develop an accessible, low-cost device for treating Covid-19 patients.
Keogh, who is a Dublin-based engineer, is working alongside Conall Laverty, David Pollard and others to design and engineer an open-source ventilator, which could be used in emergencies.
Keogh told Siliconrepublic.com: “There are situations where people will need emergency ventilators. We’re hopeful we won’t need them in Ireland, but an awful lot of countries around the world won’t be that lucky.”