Over 2,000 Ventilators In National Stockpile Are Unusable Because Of Months-Long Contract Lapse
The contract with a company that was maintaining the machines for the government expired at the end of last summer, and a new firm didn't begin its work until January. Meanwhile, hospitals and doctors continue to think through the most humane way to ration care if the expected shortage of ventilators comes to pass.
The New York Times:
A Ventilator Stockpile, With One Hitch: Thousands Do Not Work
President Trump has repeatedly assured Americans that the federal government is holding 10,000 ventilators in reserve to ship to the hardest-hit hospitals around the nation as they struggle to keep the most critically ill patients alive. But what federal officials have neglected to mention is that an additional 2,109 lifesaving devices are unavailable after the contract to maintain the government’s stockpile lapsed late last summer, and a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late January. By then, the coronavirus crisis was already underway. (Sanger, Kanno-Youngs and Kulish, 4/1)
The Associated Press:
Can You Fix Ventilators? A Fuel Cell Engineer Figures It Out
It was late when engineer Joe Tavi’s boss called with an odd question: Could their company, which makes fuel cells, learn how to fix a ventilator?California had a bunch of broken ones, and the governor had asked if San Jose-based Bloom Energy could repair them so coronavirus patients could breathe. Tavi, an engineer who grew up taking apart the family vacuum cleaner to see if he could put it back together, said he would sleep on it. (Beam, 4/2)
System To Allocate Ventilators Gains Traction For Not Counting Any Group Out
Bracing for a surge of Covid-19 patients and facing shortages of the resources necessary to keep the sickest patients alive, hospitals and governments are grappling with the reality of having to answer an unimaginable question: If ventilators and intensive care unit beds must be rationed, who should get them? Several states have already issued guidance recommending that hospitals exclude certain patient groups from such care, such as those with late-stage cancer or Alzheimer’s disease — and in doing so, sparked a storm of criticism, as well as federal civil rights investigations. Professional societies and academic bioethicists are also putting forward alternative ethical guidelines. One, in particular, is gaining traction. (Thielking, 4/2)
The New York Times:
Should Doctors Have The Right To Withhold Care From The Sickest Coronavirus Patients?
One patient had lymphoma and heart failure. Another was 85 years old with metastatic cancer. A third was 83 and had dementia and lung disease. All were critically ill with the coronavirus, and, a doctor said, all were hooked up to ventilators in recent weeks at a major Manhattan hospital. But soon, patients such as those might not receive similar aggressive treatment. As people with the virus overwhelm New York City hospitals, doctors have stepped up pressure on state health officials to give them a rare and unsettling power: the right to withhold care from patients who are not likely to recover. (Goldstein, Rothfeld and Weiser, 4/1)
Schumer Calls For Military Official To Act As Medical Equipment Czar
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday evening called on President Trump to appoint a senior military official to serve as a czar in charge of producing and distributing medical equipment, arguing that Trump’s coronavirus task force is not up to the job. “There's a dramatic shortage of all the needed supplies or most of them, whether it's masks, whether it's [Personal Protective Equipment] PPE ... whether it's ventilators. And we have no one really in charge," Schumer said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. "We have this awful spectacle of governors bidding against one another." (Bolton, 4/1)