VMS Collaborates in Treatment for COVID-19

VMS Collaborates in Treatment for COVID-19
Over the past several weeks, Vail Mountain School parents Dr. Dave and Dr. Lisa Hile, both emergency medicine physicians have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response. Seeing the day-to-day implications of this virus and the limited effectiveness of ventilators in treating COVID-19 patients inspired them to develop a more effective solution. They brainstormed a variety of designs, settling on a snorkel mask that could interface with a CPAP machine.  Their research led them to The Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems (Isinnova ), an independent Italian research institute. Isinnova had already developed a method to adapt full-face snorkel masks to work with CPAP machines as ventilators. The Hiles were inspired. Isinnova released their design which included engineering models for parts that can be printed to adapt a diving mask to a hospital's oxygen system, but the solution required a special 3D printed adapter called a Charlotte Valve to connect the snorkel mask to a CPAP machine. 
 
Drs. Hile contacted VMS teachers Grant Gary, Dean Chambers, and Tim Sinnott to request their assistance in fabricating the needed parts using VMS’s 3D printers.  Grant Gary and Dave Hile then met with a team of pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, and critical care doctors at Valley View Hospital. As this was happening, Dean Chambers was printing test models while Tim Sinnott was modifying the models to fit other types of full-face masks. After a quick but thorough iteration process, they settled on an elegant and efficacious design along with some custom adaptations of the design for other types of snorkel masks. VMS student Henry Prince and future VMS student Mylo Ornowski aided the effort by testing different materials and printing techniques and are standing by to assist with production. 
 
The new device was used on a patient for the first time on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The next steps are to create additional adapters and acquire more masks with the immediate goal of supporting 18 patients in respiratory distress at Valley View Hospital.  This will result in nearly tripling the hospital's capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.  The ultimate goal is to proliferate this technology throughout the United States and the world to save as many lives as possible.  
 
Tim Sinnott states, “I spent about 18 hours working on my first design modification and print. It was amazing to suddenly be working on a project that could save someone's life the next day and in our community. I am grateful for the chance to help Dave save lives.” Grant Gary puts it this way, "This has been one of the most meaningful projects I have worked on in my life."
 
This collaborative effort between VMS teachers, parents, and the local and international medical community exemplifies the VMS mission: Develop Character; Seek Knowledge; Build Community.