Doctors from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) already have the first model of non-invasive ventilation ready, and with a built-in isolation mask, which will allow treating patients with COVID-19. The innovation has all the preclinical tests successfully passed and the safety parameters checked.
The device is named Fluxus Mask and time, what follows is to find financial support and final authorization from the Ministry of Health for its mass production.
On this occasion, the masterminds behind the innovation are Dr. Jean Carlo Segura Aparicio and Dr. Lizbeth Salazar Sánchez, from the UCR School of Medicine; as well as Dr. Olman Coronado García, respiratory therapist at the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS). In addition, it had the support of Miguel Imbach Bartol and Pablo González Lucas, who collaborated from the private company.
The innovation has four important qualities that will make it possible to use it in medical centers and ambulances, as well as in rural areas of the country where there is a visible increase in cases of COVID-19. For example, the North Zone.
According to Dr. Jean Carlo Segura, the first advantage is that the mechanism does not depend on electrical energy to function. Second, intubation of the patient is not required. Third, by having an isolation mask for the sick person, health personnel significantly reduce the risk of becoming infected when providing care.
Finally, there is the low cost of production. As explained by Dr. Segura, only a traditional respirator is priced at approximately $ 10,000 dollars (or sometimes more due to the high demand in the current pandemic). Something very different from Fluxus Mask, whose production cost is up to five times less ($ 2,000).
“The device successfully passed all preclinical tests and is capable of providing ventilatory support to patients with COVID-19 in the first three levels of the disease indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO): mild, moderate and serious. The mechanism allows to increase lung capacity and improve gas exchange. In addition, it has biological filters that prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, “said Dr. Segura.
The fundamental idea of the mechanism is to prevent the patient from reaching a critical state that requires intubation in an intensive care unit. This would not only benefit the patient toward a speedy recovery, but would also free up resources to care for other patients and decrease the costs of care incurred by the CCSS.
Furthermore, the mechanism was thought with a clear advantage: the medical supplies required for its elaboration, such as filters, valves or tubes, are widely available in Costa Rica. Therefore, the entire assembly can be carried out in the country and not depend on foreign inputs.
“Right now we have a significant increase in people infected with COVID-19 and the device may be needed, mainly, in rural areas. That is why a simple, easy-to-transport equipment was proposed, ”said Dr. Lizbeth Salazar Sánchez, director of the UCR School of Medicine and member of the project.
The ventilatory support adapts to all the CCSS hospital oxygen facilities and transfer units, without requiring additional space for its installation. Similarly, the equipment can be adjusted to give nebulization to asthmatic patients who have COVID-19.
Currently, it is not advisable to nebulize SARS-CoV-2 infected asthma patients because they may expose those around them to further contagion. With the resource, such treatment could be provided without any danger.