A New York hospital has begun splitting ventilators to use on two patients instead of one, according to The New York Times, a sign of the dire shortage of ventilators in the state as the coronavirus spreads.
Jeremy Beitler, a doctor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, told the Times that the hospital has not yet run out of ventilators but is preparing for that possibility by trying the splitting technique now before they “have absolutely no choice.”
A shortage of ventilators, machines that allow seriously ill patients to breathe and stay alive, is one of the top concerns of the coronavirus crisis.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been warning daily of the state’s shortage of ventilators and urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpDefense industrial base workers belong at home during this public health crisis Maduro pushes back on DOJ charges, calls Trump ‘racist cowboy’ House leaders hope to vote Friday on coronavirus stimulus MORE to use his powers under the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturers to ramp up production.
Cuomo said on Wednesday that the state needs 30,000 ventilators by the time the peak of the crisis hits in as soon as 14 days, but that it only has 11,000.
Trump told Fox News host Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump says ‘no way’ he’ll cancel GOP convention in August Trump questions need for 30,000 ventilators in New York Hannity challenges Mnuchin on coronavirus bill: Expanding unemployment benefits ‘angers my audience’ MORE on Thursday night that he does not believe the state actually needs that many, questioning how bad the ventilator shortage really is.
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Trump said. “You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”
Cuomo has said the state is looking at splitting ventilators as one option to try to increase supply.
New York-Presbyterian is not using split ventilators for all patients, the Times reported, given that sometimes two patients need significantly different settings on the machine.
In a sign more hospitals could try the technique, a South Carolina company, Prisma Health, received approval this week from the Food and Drug Administration for a device that can split a ventilator among as many as four patients.