Physician-developed respirator device offers one possible solution to PPE shortages

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Surgeons and other healthcare professionals aren’t hanging around waiting for depleted personal protective equipment (PPE) to be replenished. Amid COVID-19-related shortages, ingenuity, creativity and craftsmanship have come to the fore.

Social media swirl with tales of healthcare professionals fashioning and improvising their own devices.

Step forward Gary M. Ansel, MD, assistant medical chief for vascular services at OhioHealth Heart and Vascular Physicians in Columbus, Ohio, who has created an enhanced version of the paper masks available to medical professionals as N95 mask supplies run out.

“As you know, COVID-19 is leading to healthcare workers being put at extreme risk for exposure to the virus, oftentimes because of the lack of PPE equipment,” Ansel explained.

“Though we have not felt that brunt in Ohio yet, it has hit Washington and the West Coast as well as New York City dramatically like it did in Europe. Many of the problems are the lack of personal protection devices that we’re not having available to us because of the vast need during this crisis.

Gary M. Ansel wearing his device

“Trying to answer that need as we run out of the N95 masks until a massive production can occur, I’ve developed a methodology to increase the efficiency of the paper masks that we do have right now.”

His device involves the use of a full-face snorkel designed to provide an air-tight seal, with the air intake coming from behind or above. A paper mask—incorporated into Ansel’s method—acts as filter for any potential droplets emanating from patients.

“Though I recommend the N95 if available, this should be an improvement for personal air purification compared to the regular masks,” Ansel added, and pointed out he developed the device in a personal capacity, based on his own anecdotal experience.

Watch a step-by-step demonstration of Ansel’s methodology here.

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