As the President demands more ventilators be sent to hospitals in states that are hot spots for the novel coronavirus, the demand for oxygen is also rising. While atmospheric gas companies serve a multitude of essential industries, the medical industry has become even more critical than before. The United States has surpassed both Italy and China with the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Atmospheric gas companies are working diligently to keep up with the demand. So far they have been able to rise to the challenge and are proactively planning the logistics of potential obstacles.
Medical ventilators, or breathing machines, do the work of inhaling for patients whose lungs are strained or failing. Ventilators flow oxygen to the patient while removing carbon dioxide through a respiratory mask or a tube inserted into the windpipe. Most patients are able to exhale on their own, though the ventilator can do the work for them if the situation is dire.
For COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, the additional effort it takes to breathe is eliminated and they are given time with decreased labor to combat the viral infection. As the virus attacks the lungs, patients with severe symptoms and underlying health conditions (particularly preexisting respiratory issues) have the best chance of survival if they have access to a ventilator.
No country has been prepared for the high demand in ventilators needed for COVID-19 patients in critical condition. The materials needed to build ventilators are now deemed essential to the United States’ national defense, as patients are surging hospitals daily and the death toll rises. Engineering, tech, and manufacturing companies are offering to use their resources to produce medical ventilators in to attempt bring necessary aid. Likewise, atmospheric gas companies are doing everything they can to dispatch oxygen deliveries to hospitals across the nation.
A shortage of compressed or liquid medical oxygen would be rare, which is good news for now. This does not mean a shortage is impossible. Medical oxygen is not processed much differently than standard oxygen and does not require additional purification to be safe and usable for medical purposes. Air Separation Units pull and separate oxygen from the air, then distill it through a cryogenic process that produces purity levels greater than 99 percent. This oxygen is already functionally safe for medical use.
gasworld states, “Although some air separation facilities may divert a portion of the oxygen they produce into dedicated medical oxygen tanks, this is not a universal practice, nor is it necessary; oxygen produced by air separation is, by nature of the process, acceptable as medical oxygen.”
The atmospheric gas industry is seeing an influx of oxygen sales, but a shortage is not something to worry about currently. Potential problems lie more around supplying oxygen within hospital infrastructures themselves rather than having access to enough medical oxygen.
Some hospitals are working to build additional pipelines that transport oxygen from bulk tanks to hospital rooms. Portable oxygen cylinders are also a commodity, which is why returning and refilling them as quickly and efficiently as possible is crucial. There is the option to convert cylinders holding inert gases into medical oxygen cylinders as well. The atmospheric gas industry is staying proactive with various options to supply this vital element in fighting the pandemic.
Out of all of the states in the Rocky Mountain region that Rocky Mountain Air serves (Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming), Colorado has been hit the hardest. The governor is urging the federal government to send ventilators, and the demand for medical oxygen will follow.
As an essential industry under the COVID-19 pandemic, Rocky Mountain Air will continue to prioritize the medical industry and the service of medical oxygen with flawless dependability. We will continue to work with hospitals and clinics to supply them in this time of increased demand. Our trained cryogenics experts are educated in assessing these increased usage needs. Our employees and delivery drivers have been trained in strict safety protocols for deliveries and sanitizing cylinders to protect the health and safety of our employees and customers. See our best practices for deliveries and our response to COVID-19.
Contact your local RMA branch in any one of our five states today to discuss your medical oxygen needs with a representative. We look forward to partnering with you and prioritizing the needs of the healthcare industry during these challenging times.