A company in Franklin that normally builds miniature power plants recently changed gears to design a simple ventilator to help hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now given the Enexor's device an emergency approval. The company hopes to start delivering new ventilators within a few days.
The emergency approval means doctors can use the equipment to treat patients even though the equipment hasn’t undergone the same type of review as a fully approved device. Scientific evidence must show that the device will be useful in treating COVID-19 to receive emergency approval.
A team from the Franklin company Enexor consulted with doctors and respiratory therapists and designed the ventilator in less than a month.
Founder and CEO Lee Jestings said the company decided to start making ventilators after a doctor in a developing country who had partnered with Enexor requested some ventilators.
Enexor’s power plant systems are designed to provide electricity for small, remote communities in the developing world. Initially, the company hoped to provide ventilators to those same types of communities during the coronavirus outbreak or for a future pandemic. However, Jestings said the company has received lots of interest from within the U.S. as well.
He said the ventilator has a simple design that allows hospitals to easily store them without needing to continually recalibrate the machine.
“That’s what has interested the hospitals in the U.S. We're half the cost of anything else and it's easy to store," he said. "Those are the same traits that are good if your'e in the middle of the Dominican Republic as well.”
The company has already started manufacturing ventilators, and now plans to ramp up production. Jestings said the company has already donated some ventilators to organizations in other countries.
The devices haven’t been used on humans yet, but Jestings said the company used specialized equipment to rigorously test them and make sure they are safe.
The ventilator is Enexor’s first medical product, but the company has already created a subsidiary called Enexor Health Systems that will focus on creating medical devices.
“We’re launching the company to develop medical products for the medical industry,” he said. “The FDA, in a way, helped us. We know know we can get our products FDA approved … We have confidence to bring other products to market.”