Ventilator-Assisted Living©

Spring 2004, Vol. 18, No. 1


Respironics Colorado Announces Discontinuation of Service and Repair Support for Certain Ventilation Equipment

In the fall of 2003, Respironics Colorado notified affected physicians, caregivers and ventilator clients that, effective March 1, 2004, Respironics, Inc. could no longer ensure its ability to procure service parts or repair services for certain ventilation equipment. The equipment affected included the iron lung, rocking bed, Bantam, Zephyr blower, PVV, 170C Monaghan, Thompson Portable, Cascade humidifier, IPPB, Gomco 789 Aspirator, Gomco 400 Aspirator and the Huxley.

Tim Murphy, Vice President and Controller of Respironics Colorado indicated, “Respironics Colorado representatives have and will continue to work with its clients, as well as their physicians and their caregivers, in an effort to transition these individuals to other equipment.”

Murphy continued, “From the inception of this project, Respironics Colorado shared the transition plan timeline and approach with the March of Dimes and the International Ventilators User Network. Respironics remains grateful to these organizations for their time, perspective and assistance during this project.

“All of the associates of Respironics Colorado realize the challenge this change poses for our clients and remains committed to working with each of them, their physicians and caregivers to insure an orderly transition,” Murphy concluded.

May 10, 2004

Statement From Respironics Colorado Regarding Ability to Provide On-Going Repair and Maintenance Support to Iron Lung Patients:

Respironics Colorado is sympathetic to the difficult decision that our affected patients must make regarding either the continued use of Iron Lung treatment or making a transition to an alternative treatment. The Iron Lung devices being used by these patients were manufactured from the 1940's through the 1960's and the original manufacturer of these devices no longer provides repair parts. Our concern about the continued viability of these devices is supported by the March of Dimes, the original manufacturer and clinicians.

The combination of age and unique make-up of the equipment, and the lack of commercially available parts have left Respironics Colorado in a position where providing continuing repair and service for these devices has become increasingly challenging.

We have been working for nearly one year with our patients, their physicians and caregivers, the March of Dimes, and the original manufacturer of these devices to ensure a smooth and satisfactory transition for all affected patients. Patients have been presented one of three options:

Transition to an alternative device as soon as feasible;

Continue using the Iron Lung device with the understanding that if the device fails Respironics Colorado may not be able to repair the device; or,

Accept donation of the device and pursue other support and repair options. As a company regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and other quality system certification organizations we have limitations on the suppliers and repair sources we can qualify and accept into our quality system. However, the owner of the device, in this case the patient, may seek such repairs from a non-regulated third party.

In an effort to continue to support these patients as long as possible Respironics Colorado will put all returned Iron Lungs through a comprehensive Quality Assurance check, and providing the device meets standards, it will be held in a rental pool in the event one is needed in an emergency situation by those opting to remain on the Iron Lung. Returned devices, which do not pass the overall QA check, will be held as parts resources. The reality, however, is that this may only provide a limited and unpredictable source of replacement product and repair parts and the best long term resolution for patients may be to transition to an alternative therapy.

Respironics Colorado has great compassion for our patients facing this decision and the concerns and fears of transitioning to an alternative therapy and away from something that's been a part of their life for decades. We will continue to work with these patients, their physicians and their caregivers to help them transition to an alternative therapy.

MAY 10, 2004

Statement from J.H. Emerson Co.:

As the original manufacturer of the Iron Lungs still in use by Respironics Colorado clients, J.H. Emerson Co., concurs with Respironics Colorado that the ability of Respironics or Emerson to guarantee on-going maintenance and repair of these devices is not possible.

Emerson has not manufactured Iron Lungs since 1970, and there was limited production during the 1960's. Having not manufactured these devices for over 30 years we are no longer able to produce replacement parts for the them.

We are empathetic to those who currently use the Iron Lung, and who face the challenges associated with transitioning to another device. However, we do agree that new devices and technologies make it possible for these patients to continue the ventilatory support they need.

IVUN Ventilatory Equipment Exchange

IVUN heard from several long-term ventilator users who are clients of Respironics affected by the changes in servicing and parts for their older ventilator equipment. Some of them have used iron lungs and Bantams and Monaghans for decades and were understandably concerned.

IVUN attempted to educate them about more modern, alternative modes of ventilation, to connect them with others who successfully transitioned to newer equipment, and to facilitate an equipment exchange network for those who could not make the transition.

For more on the equipment exchange, connect to “Can You Help?” People who want to donate ventilatory equipment and aids can advertise their offerings on that web page. People who need older equipment can view what is available and make arrangements for the equipment exchange and/or submit their equipment needs. Send your contact information and description of equipment donations or needs to:

New Interface

The ComfortLite™, new from Respironics, Inc. offers two nasal interface options: the Direct Seal™ cushion provides a comfortable seal without insertion into the nostrils, and the Simple Cushion™ is a small, tip-of-the-nose interface. The ComfortLite has a unique headgear system that separates the hose from the mask area for greater stability and a 360° hose swivel. Multiple adjustment points on the headgear help to fit the ComfortLite to a wide variety of head sizes and ensure mask stability. Advantages include minimal facial contact, reduced pressure points, less claustrophobia and elimination of skin sensitivity problems.

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