'A world-class collaboration': 100 made-in-Sask. ventilators to help in COVID-19 fight
A pair of ventilators designed by a Saskatoon-based firm. (Provided by Government of Saskatchewan)
SASKATOON -- One hundred ventilators, all made in Saskatchewan, will soon be available to help patients hardest-hit by COVID-19.
The ventilators were designed and will be manufactured by RMD Engineering Inc. in Saskatoon.
The firm recently received approval from Health Canada to move ahead with the project, according to a news release from the Saskatchewan government.
The University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) collaborated on the project.
“When COVID hit, my daughter, a Royal University Hospital ICU nurse, raised awareness of the potential impact on the healthcare system” RMD Engineering president Jim Boire said in the release.
“Knowing we had the skillset, capability, and capacity in-house, we chose to do something rather than nothing and created an emergency use ventilator using reliable technology and readily available materials."
Boire said his firm received a "high level of trust" from the SHA and the university's college of engineering, “which led to a world-class collaboration.”
The Saskatchewan government has given the SHA approval to buy 100 of the ventilators.
In an interview with CTV News, Boire said his team has spent more than 45,000 hours of work on the project since March.
“We're going to bring medical device manufacturing to Saskatchewan, and again, high-end manufacturing, very technical. We have all the right people in this province to do it, this is where it should be done, not outsourcing to different countries when you have the capability.”
Receiving Health Canada's blessing was a major milestone for the team, Boire said.
“That is something that you sit on pins and needles for a lot of hours just wondering,” Boire said of the Health Canada approval.
Dr. Darcy Marciniuk at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine was has been involved with the project since March.
"These are pieces of life-saving equipment that are intended for use for patients who are severely affected with COVID-19," Marciniuk said.
"They're state of the art pieces of equipment that are portable, approved for use in COVID-19 patients, which is, the timing is critical given the current pandemic and projections of what may happen."
About 650 ventilators are currently available in Saskatchewan’s health system, according to the province.
Sask. may run out of ventilators in Jan. despite public health orders: SHA
RMD is expected to have its first 20 ventilators ready for delivery by Dec. 7. The devices will be produced by a subsidiary of the company, One Health Medical Technologies.
--With files from Pat McKay