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EJGH receives 'bubble helmets' as alternative to ventilators for COVID patients

It serves the same purpose as a ventilator, but with fewer complications.

METAIRIE, La. — Critical COVID-19 patients who need a ventilator, may now have another, less invasive option. East Jefferson General Hospital received 12 CPAP Hoods, also called bubble helmets, this week. 

"The same type of technology we use for people with sleep apnea, where they have difficulty breathing at night or they stop breathing," said Dr. Luis Arencibia at EJGH. "So this machine, what it does, is it seals around your neck and forces air into your lungs."

It's a less invasive option for critical COVID-19 patients who otherwise would need to be intubated and sedated to use a ventilator.

"There are only a handful of sites around the country that have this bubble helmet," Arencibia said. "It's actually something that's really never been utilized for this purpose in the United States. It's used widely in Europe."

According to Arencibia, EJGH is the first hospital to receive these bubble helmets in the New Orleans area.

"This is a protocol that Italy has been using, where they start them on this and as time goes on and they decline, they move them to a ventilator, and if they don't, that's one less person you have to worry about," Arencibia said. 

It serves the same purpose as a ventilator, but with fewer complications.

"You can feed them liquid food through a straw, they're awake, I don't have to sedate them," Arencibia said. 

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Respiratory therapists at EJGH are testing one of the bubble helmets for quality control to hopefully start using them on patients Thursday.

Notre Dame Health Systems worked with Care Management Innovations to get these bubble helmets. 

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