Medtronic said Wednesday it has boosted ventilator production by more than 40% and is on track to more than double capacity to meet “significantly increased” demand. The company said it would more than double the 250-person workforce at its Galway, Ireland, plant that makes its Puritan line of ventilators.
Yet hospitals face weeks of waiting for additional machines, because the average turnaround time for new orders is about eight weeks, said Soumi Saha, senior director of advocacy at Premier Inc., which negotiates supply contracts for U.S. hospitals.
Premier is surveying U.S. hospitals to gauge how many more patients hospitals can manage before they will need more ventilators, Ms. Saha said.
Ventilators are machines—many about the size of a desktop printer—that aid breathing. Critically-ill coronavirus patients, like those with pneumonia in intensive-care units who are having trouble breathing, need the assistance to survive. The devices cost anywhere from $5,000 to more than $30,000 apiece.
The ventilators are mainly in hospitals, though a federal government stockpile also has the machines.