Windsor ventilator project awaits Health Canada approval

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

CTV Windsor/Melanie Borelli

WINDSOR, ONT. -- St. Clair College is collaborating with an automation solutions provider on a ventilator project that is awaiting Health Canada approval.

The college and CenterLine Ltd joined forces in response to a potential shortage of ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis.

The device, designed and tested at Windsor CenterLine facilities, will automatically inflate and deflate a manual ventilator bag, taking over what a pair of human hands would normally do.

The product development team at CenterLine created the concept that “is nothing complicated, from a mechanical or engineering perspective,” according to Larry Koscielski, vice president of process & technology development at CenterLine.

“It’s a simple little device,” said Koscielski. “But now, when you start to understand all the little things that it has to do, and all the thought that’s gone into it…Like everything in life, breathing is incredibly more complex than we understood.”

Faculty from the College’s programs in Respiratory Therapy and BioMedical Engineering Technology collaborated with the engineers at CenterLine.

“Every interaction brought another level of understanding and opportunity to improve or solve another problem,” Koscielski said. “They’re taking something that for them is intuitively tactile. They get feedback just because they can feel it in their fingers and we’re basically taking that away from them in the mechanical squeezebox.”

The project kicked off on March 21. Representatives from the Windsor-Essex manufacturing industry, St. Clair College and Windsor Regional Hospital met to discuss ideas.

Within one day of that meeting, a cross-functional team at CenterLine had developed prints that were released for manufacturing.

By March 23, they had all the parts assembled into a working prototype.

“From the very first functional prototype, we have produced a total of 11 systems leading up to the final product,” Koscielski said.

St. Clair was also able to leverage support from Windsor Regional Hospital and staff from the hospital visited CenterLine, providing insights on the hospital’s needs.

A letter of support was sent to Health Canada that was co-signed by Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj and Chief of Staff Dr. Wassim Saad.

Another supporting letter was sent by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.