When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, there was concern that patient volume would swell, and hospitals would suffer from an insufficient supply of ventilators. While it is possible to stretch ventilator usage to treat more than one patient, it was shared by Advisory Board on April 2 that it would be unsafe to do so with current equipment. As ingenuity would have it, caregivers Marc Petre, PhD, Umur Hatipoglu, MD, and Rob Chatburn designed a safer approach to multiplex ventilation– a splitter valve which would allow clinicians to share the airflow between two patients in a safer, more controlled manner.
Initial sketches of the splitter valve were sent to Parker Hannifin Corp., and within days a working prototype was 3D-printed and hand-delivered to Cleveland Clinic for testing. After many rounds of iteration by Parker Hannifin and Cleveland Clinic staff in Ohio, Michigan, and California – a final design was reached by April 15. Each “Adjustable Flow Distributor” is 3D-printed out of medical-grade material, and is assembled and leak-tested by Parker Hannifin in Macedonia, Ohio. The device evenly distributes flow between two outlets without increasing resistance to the ventilator.
The exercise of bringing this device to life is a testament to the teamwork displayed by Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, Clinical Engineering, Operations, and Legal Departments and Divisions, as well as Parker Hannifin’s Engineered Materials Group, and their Corporate Vice President of Technology. In this spirit of teamwork, Parker Hannifin is only asking Cleveland Clinic to cover the material costs in manufacturing the device. Currently, Cleveland Clinic has the Adustable Flow Distributor in stock for internal use, and the solution has been submitted for an FDA Emergency Use Authorization, should other hospitals wish to use them.