coronavirus watch

Texas company making low-cost ventilation helmets sees growing demand amid COVID-19 pandemic

The device could help alleviate a worldwide shortage of ventilators. Photo courtesy of Sea-Long

A company based in Waxahachie, Texas, is making a promising ventilation helmet for coronavirus cases that has become in demand around the world.

Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., which has been manufacturing hyperbaric oxygen hoods since 1985, has a spacesuit-like helmet that could help alleviate the worldwide shortage of ventilators needed by patients suffering from COVID-19.

The device consists of a transparent hood with two tubes extending from its base that can be connected to an oxygen supply. It has great potential because it could be used as a stopgap to free up ventilators for patients who are critically ill.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients who used them required ventilation 18.2 percent of the time, compared to 61.5 percent who wore oxygen masks. Helmet-wearing patients also had a better survival rate.

According to NBC News, Sea-Long is getting thousands of orders every day from hospitals in America and around the world. Doctors in Italy have found it effective in helping some patients with breathing problems.

And the Sea-Long helmet is only $162, compared to the $25,000 to $50,000 cost of a hospital-grade ventilator.

Virgin Galactic, which has been proactive on the manufacture of ventilation devices, has lent financial assistance including buying equipment, but Sea-Long is still shipping a limited number helmets per order. They've received orders from Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

"'Overwhelmed' doesn't scratch the surface," Sea-Long founder Chris Austin told NBC News.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Moonflower Farms grows lettuce hydroponically. Courtesy of Moonflower Farms

A Houston urban farm has earned national recognition for its innovative approach to water conservation. Moonflower Farms won the American Heart Association's Foodscape Innovation Excellence Award, which recognizes positive changes in the foodscape, a term for all of the places where food is produced, purchased, or consumed.

The Heart Association selected Moonflower's submission, titled "Sustainable Farming Through Water Conservation," from 26 entries. Dallas' Restorative Farms earns the Foodscape Innovation Consumer Choice Award.

"These two innovations demonstrate a way of producing food that promotes affordability and equitable access, and the American Heart Association is proud to recognize these efforts," AHA chief medical officer for prevention Eduardo Sanchez said in a release.

Located in a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse south of downtown, Moonflower operates what it describes as Houston's first vertical indoor farm. The method both reduces the amount of space needed to grow the farm's microgreens, lettuces, herbs and edible flowers and it eliminates the disruptions caused by adverse weather conditions, which allows the farm to produce year round.

Moonflower uses a closed-loop system for capturing rainwater to feed its crops. The water is treated and oxygenated so that it can be reused. Not having to pay for water from the City of Houston allows the farm to operate more economically and sell its produce at an affordable price to restaurants and individuals.

"Our hydroponic farm uses 90-percent less water than conventional farms," Moonflower founder and CEO Federico Marques said in a statement. "We provide year-round produce to residents in historically underserved communities and donate produce to local charitable food systems."

One of those charities is Houston non-profit Second Servings, which "rescues" food from restaurants and events and distributes it to food pantries and other resources.

"The donations we receive from Moonflower Farms are incredible," Second Servings founder and president Barbara Bronstein said. "Their hydroponically grown greens are so appreciated by the needy Houstonians we serve, who lack affordable, convenient access to fresh produce."

Recently, Moonflower introduced a SupaGreens subscription box that allows customers to purchase greens weekly, bimonthly, or monthly. The box is delivered directly to consumers.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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