OEMs are donating and supplying medical equipment to help hospitals in China diagnose and treat patients infected with the Coronavirus

Leading manufacturers lend support to Chinese hospitals in coronavirus epidemic

February 05, 2020
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
Providers in China are experiencing an influx of medical imaging equipment and other necessary technologies from manufacturers worldwide, to help address the growing novel coronavirus epidemic that has swept across the country’s landscape.

A range of solutions have poured into hospitals across the East Asian nation, ranging from X-ray and ultrasound scanners to respiratory equipment, to help clinicians diagnose and treat the fatal disease, which has already taken the lives of more than 400, according to the Associated Press. Many deployments are the result of a spike in equipment orders, but some are personal donations offered by the OEMs themselves.

One hospital set to receive such devices is Leishenshan, a makeshift hospital constructed in just two weeks. The facility is set to open on Thursday, February 6, and will be equipped with a number of solutions supplied by Philips, including a CT scanner for diagnosing the effects of the disease and an ultrasound solution for rapid assessment of respiratory complications and remote diagnosis of critical cases. Other donations by the Dutch healthcare giant include patient monitors and ventilators, intensive care and bedside monitoring solutions, defibrillators, and air purifiers for air filtration and sterilization.

“Considering the relief it could bring by helping to provide access to care and prevention at this time of crisis, we have worked fast to get this donation and expertise across,” said Margot Cooijmans, director of the Philips Foundation, in a statement. “The knowledge of Philips in the field of respiratory diseases and health technology was a critical part of this emergency response.”

Leishenshan is not the only makeshift hospital to be constructed since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, with the Chinese government recently completing another, Huoshenshan hospital — named after a fire God — in over 10 days in Wuhan, where the first case of the virus was confirmed and where more than 75,000 people are estimated to be infected, reports The Australian.

To help in supplying these and other hospitals with necessary resources, some manufacturers, such as United Imaging Healthcare, have set up spare part sites for quickly meeting needs. The Shanghai-based company has already installed more than $1.4 million in medical imaging equipment and protective gear, including one uCT 780 (160-slice CT scanner) and two uCT 760s (128-slice CT scanners) at Huoshenshan hospital. It has also accelerated production to deliver more than 100 CT scanners and X-ray machines to hospitals in Wuhan, Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang, Inner Mongolia, and other regions in China.

“United Imaging's engineers are standing by 24 hours a day to respond to emergency calls from hospitals,” said the company in a statement, adding that “as a global company, United Imaging is committed to access for all to the best possible care worldwide and is proud to play a small part alongside so many who are going above and beyond in this moment.”

Siemens too has joined in the effort, donating in January a portable ultrasound, along with another ultrasound and a CT scanner to two hospitals in Wuhan, according to Reuters.

Equipment for diagnosing and treating the coronavirus is not the only need. The GE plant in Madison, for instance, has ramped up production of its R860 respirators to help patients who are unable to breathe on their own, with orders up nearly 20 percent since the outbreak, according to ABC-affiliate WKOW.

Similarly, Canon (China) Co. Ltd., Canon Medical Systems (China) Co. Ltd. and all members of the Canon Group plan to donate a full-body X-ray CT diagnosis system to the Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan to perform clinical tests for emphysema caused by the virus.

“Through the donation of the X-ray CT diagnosis system, the Canon Group aims to support medical professionals and those in other industries working to treat patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus,” said the company in a statement. “In addition, Canon will provide needed parts and maintenance to hospitals throughout China that use the company's medical devices.”

Other technologies such as AI are also playing their own role in the fight, with Infervision AI designing a Coronavirus AI solution to help clinicians detect and monitor the disease. Among the processes it is being applied to are pneumonia marking, abnormal and severe case analysis, patient triage, medical resources coordination, prior case comparisons and treatment assessments.

"The outbreak has put significant pressure on imaging departments, which are now reading over a thousand cases a day," said Infervision in a statement. "Patients and clinicians typically have to wait a few hours to get the CT results, but Infervision AI is improving the CT diagnosis speed for each case; and each minute saved is critical to decrease the chance of cross-contamination at the hospital."

More than 10,000 people have been infected by the novel coranavirus in at least 18 countries — surpassing the spread of the SARS epidemic in 2003. A human-to-human transmission case in the U.S. was confirmed Friday by the CDC, when they revealed that a Chicago woman had spread the virus to her husband. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared it a "global health emergency", with fears and concerns leading airlines to suspend flights to China and causing drops in the market.