Ottawa respiratory therapist's invention helping patients on ventilators

An Ottawa company is helping patients on ventilators and frontline staff stay safe at hospitals across North America.

The company’s device called ‘Flusso’ is changing how a patient is connected to a mechanical ventilator with a breathing tube.

“Having this device helped those patients, but also protects staff from potential airborne contaminants escaping, whether it be pharmaceuticals or obviously COVID,” says Frank Fiorenza, product development and national sales manager with McArthur Medical Sales Inc.

The small device is added to existing breathing tubes.  It is used in hospitals and prevents air from escaping when a patient is transferred or disconnected.

Fiorenza is an Ottawa respiratory therapist who thought there may be a better way to disconnect patients.

“I saw the need right from day one of working in a hospital,” he said. “And then, about  six years ago, I guess you could say a bit of an ‘aha’ moment.”

He then started working on a design, and found an Ottawa-based engineer to help with a prototype.

“I started to go down the road of finding an engineer that could take my napkin drawings and turn them into CAD drawings and get into 3D printing.”

The product first hit the market in 2018, and Fiorenza says once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, demand soared. The device is manufactured at a facility in west Ottawa.

“We’ve been running now 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the last 18 or 19 months,” says Laurie Dickson with L-D Tool & Die.

‘Flusso’ costs $20 per unit, and Fiorenza says they manufacture about 1,000 to 1,200 units per day.

“The next step is to make it the gold standard; that anybody that’s on a ventilator has a Flusso.”