Medela announced today that it will open a new manufacturing line in the U.S. for its Vario 18 AC portable suction pumps, which provide suction and fluid removal during respiratory treatment provided by ventilators.
The company said it will produce 10,000 units beginning in June from its Americas headquarters in McHenry, Ill. to help meet the ongoing needs of hospitals and other healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 patients throughout North America.
While mechanical ventilators are essential for patients in an intensive care unit, so is accompanying suction pump equipment for the removal of lung secretions generated from the inflammatory process of the COVID-19 virus, the company said.
Hospitals traditionally use airway suction that relies on central wall-piped vacuum, but England’s National Health Service recently recommended against hospitals using piped vacuum to support infectious disease units (IDU) to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
“Now is the time to assess what we have learned from this healthcare crisis so far, so we can better support hospitals and clinicians by providing the right equipment to aid in recovery and preparedness for any potential resurgence in the fall,” said Melissa Gonzales, EVP of Medela Americas, in a news release. “The importance of portable suction not tied to central wall vacuum sources is critical. Coronavirus patients experience fluid pooling in the lungs and pairing ventilators with portable suction technology like the Vario 18 AC is crucial to ensuring pulmonary hygiene to support patient care and recovery.”
The Vario 18 AC is lightweight and quiet and features a disposable virus filter and reusable or disposable collection systems, which may reduce the risk of infection for caregivers and patients. It has adjustable vacuum levels and a safety push-button to prevent accidental re-adjustment. The Vario 18 AC is widely used in Europe and manufactured only in Switzerland thus far, according to Medela. The company decided to open the new production to help address the coronavirus pandemic in North America.
“We saw the needs of hospitals across the globe and began efforts to ramp up production already in March,” said Medela CEO Annette Brüls. “However, the demand continues to outpace our capacity by far. This is why we decided to build this additional production line in the United States to help address the coronavirus pandemic in North America.”