SARASOTA, Fla. — During the height of the pandemic, controlled air-purifying respirators, known as CAPR helmets, were one of the most valued pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, but when a critical piece of it needed to be replaced, it was hard to come by because of a supply shortage.
“We would’ve paid anything to get them, but they were just unavailable,” said Robert Santos, director of SMH’s Biomedical Engineering and Technology Assessment Department.
So, the biomedical engineering team at Sarasota Memorial Hospital purchased a small 3D printer for $1,000 and began making the replacement part themselves.
Without it, the CAPRs could not protect clinicians from becoming infected while caring for COVID patients.
The team can now make more than a dozen items with the 3D printer, helping the hospital overcome supply shortages and saving money.
“Designed a strain relief for a very expensive cable. In a years' time we figured we saved close to $20,000 in the replacement of that cable alone,” Santos said.
The hospital recently purchased a larger 3D printer to continue its innovative work.
“Being able to print something out in four hours and install it, it’s very helpful. It warms my heart that it’s part of a bigger success. Somewhere down the line it might help a patient,” said Artem Chevtsov, Biomedical Technologist.