Minnesota Medtech Steps Up
Advanced Medical Training & Research Center Shanghai, China

Minnesota Medtech Steps Up

While coronavirus continues to take its toll on Minnesota, the medical technology sector makes strides to providing more testing and protection equipment.

Heading into another week of social distancing, Minnesota has reported a total of 576 confirmed Covid-19 cases, along with 10 deaths. Now, the state’s medtech companies are again lending a hand to help alleviate the strain on hospital systems.

In response to the desperate need for ventilators, Medtronic has publicized design specifications for its ventilators. The information sharing about the Puritan Bennett 560 ventilator will allow other companies across industries to contribute to increased production of the much-needed device, said Bob White, executive vice president and president of the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group at Medtronic, in a news release.

“Medtronic recognizes the acute need for ventilators as life-saving devices in the management of Covid-19 infections. We know this global crisis needs a global response. Over the past few weeks, we have ramped up production of our Puritan Bennett 980 ventilators. But we also know we can do more, and we are,” White said. “By openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against Covid-19.”

Right now, Minnesotans are under an executive order to stay at home to buy the state time to prepare enough ventilators and ICU beds for people with severe cases of coronavirus.

The need for more masks has also been a pervasive issue, with Maplewood-based 3M ramping up production and several smaller companies pivoting to mask-making. To offset the shortage in personal protective equipment, Starkey has donated more than 80,000 masks to Hennepin County.

“We are grateful to the healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of this crisis,” Starkey president Brandon Sawalich said in a press release. “As part of the healthcare community, we feel a responsibility to do what we can to keep them as safe as possible during this challenging time.”

Just like respirators and ventilators, the need for hand sanitizer has skyrocketed. Ecolab says it’s increased production of hand sanitizer tenfold.

The speed, accessibility, and availability of testing for the novel coronavirus is yet another an ongoing issue. For its part, UnitedHealth Group is introducing a new self-administered test that requires a smaller swab. The insurer aims to make the new tests available for 46,000 doctors under its OptumCare umbrella.

The Minnetonka-based company’s test will potentially prevent thousands of clinicians from being exposed to Covid-19.