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Local company to build “simplified ventilators” for hospitals

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC)- One local company is trying to help health care professionals on the front lines.

Phoenix America makes sensors to control motors. They decided they could use their skills to build a simplified ventilator to distribute to hospitals to help ease the stress health professionals are facing during this time.

"Obviously we're a manufacturer here in Fort Wayne we want to keep our people employed and we want to utilize them if at all possible to aid and comfort at this time of crisis," Vice Preside of Sales and Operations, Scott Mentzer said.

The ventilator can be used by hospitals when there aren't enough traditional ventilators to go around. Although it has some of the same mechanisms it's not to be confused with an actual ventilator.

"This would be targeted at patients that from a physicians standpoint don't need to be on a full blown ventilator and only if they don't have enough ventilators to service all of their patients. If they have enough ventilators these patients should be on a ventilator," Mentzer said.

The company is also seeking help from medical professionals to make sure the device is headed in the right direction.

Intervention Radiologist, Dr. Fred Vandeman said not only can the device help patients it can also make treating them much easier for health professionals.

"A normal ventilator is not managed by the nurse on the floor, it's managed by the respiratory therapist and they can be overwhelmed by the volume of the patients that need their care and this device can be managed more easily by a nurse if that's required than a regular ventilator," Vandeman said.

Engineers say the current model is a working prototype and they are still testing out different options for the final product.

All of those working on the project say doing something like this makes them fell like they are doing their part in the fight against the virus.

"To know in this time of need that we collectively stood together and stepped forward to help that brings a lot of pride to me and to our workforce and to the people that have encouraged me to pursue something that is beyond what we traditionally would expect of ourselves but knowing that we can do it," Mentzer said.

Arielle Cadet

Arielle Cadet joined WPTA in August 2019. The Atlanta, Georgia native graduated from the University of Missouri and serves as Weekend Anchor/MMJ for ABC21. Feel free to connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or shoot her an email at

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