Five State Treasurers call on manufacturers to release ventilator repair manuals

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FILE – In this March 24, 2020, file photo a ventilator is displayed during a news conference at the New York City Emergency Management Warehouse, where 400 ventilators have arrived and will be distributed. As hospitals scour the country for scarce ventilators to treat critically ill patients stricken by the new coronavirus, pharmacists are beginning to sound an alarm that could become just as urgent: Drugs that go hand in hand with ventilators are running low even as demand is surging. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa, (WHTM)  — Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella today joined with Delaware Treasurer Colleen Davis, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Rhode Island Treasurer General Seth Magaziner, and Colorado Treasurer Dave Young to call on manufacturers of ventilators to release service manuals to repair ventilators, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Without this critically important information, hospitals are unable to make repairs to ventilators, rendering them unusable during a time of dire need.

“In a public health crisis, every second counts,” said Torsella. “There shouldn’t be a single ventilator sitting in a closet because a hospital, already under extreme pressure, isn’t able to make necessary repairs to it. I call on manufacturers of this lifesaving equipment to release this information and remove this barrier that hospitals are facing.”

In a letter, the treasurers expressed their concern for hospitals that have ventilators in stock, but are unable to use them due to repairs that are needed. It is of particular concern that rural or needy hospitals that may use secondhand equipment without a service contract are unable to make their own repairs without the proper manuals from the manufacturers.

“Having enough ventilators to care for critically ill patients is vital,” said Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis. “If the ventilators malfunction and operators don’t have manuals on how to make repairs, the results could be tragic.”

The American Hospital Association has estimated that 960,000 Americans with COVID-19 will require treatment using a ventilator, while there are only 170,000 ventilators in the United States.

“These ventilators are a matter of life or death for people fighting COVID-19,” Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said. “With a national shortage of ventilators, it is incomprehensible that these life-saving devices are sitting in hospitals across the country waiting to be fixed. Today, I call on ventilator manufacturers to step up and help hospitals address these desperately needed ventilator repairs.”

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently delivered a petition with 43,000 signatures to 25 ventilator manufacturers, asking them to release service manuals, service keys, and schematics, as part of its ongoing Right to Repair campaign. While some manufacturers have taken meaningful steps, state treasurers are asking all ventilator manufacturers to release all necessary information to repair ventilators, immediately. 

“Every resource must be made available to fight this pandemic,” said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. “To protect public health, manufacturers must make ventilator repair manuals publicly available, as soon as possible. The information could save lives.”

Repair information is not made readily available by manufacturers, limiting who can fix the equipment when it malfunctions. Releasing these manuals during this crisis would empower hospitals to take matters into their own hands, treat more patients in critical condition, and protect third party repair companies from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 when making repairs.

“Our hospitals are working hard to keep every existing ventilator in service,” said Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young. “Anything to expedite the ability to repair current ventilators is critical to saving lives, in Colorado and across the country.”

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