Viemed’s Casey Hoyt on the RTs behind the vents

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Friday, April 3, 2020

LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare has been supplying ventilators to healthcare facilities around the country and educating them on using the high-tech devices, even as it maintains its own role in treating patients in the home to free up hospital beds for COVID-19 cases.

“This is shining a light on how important of a need we have, not only for this technology but also the understanding of how to use it,” said CEO Casey Hoyt. “We have eight to 10 variations of vents moving around the country and being set up. We created an educational YouTube channel showing other clinicians how to use the equipment at facilities.”

Hoyt spoke with HME News last week about the need for ventilators and why it’s so important to recognize the respiratory therapists behind the devices.

HME News: Is Viemed seeing a big demand for ventilators?

Casey Hoyt: We are seeing more and more demand—right here in Louisiana we have a hotspot in New Orleans. Our manufacturers have stepped up to the plate to allow us to maintain a level of supply to continue to treat these patients that didn’t need to be in the hospital to free ups beds. That is the role of the HME industry right now: treat as many people as we can in the home, and offer as many tools and resources as we can to the folks fighting this.

HME: Depending on how long this crisis lasts, do you think there’s enough equipment available to care for these patients?

Hoyt: Ventilator supplies appear to be running dry. We are all reaching for any resources we can get our hands on. States are stockpiling vents so that what happened in New York doesn’t happen elsewhere. I don’t think those vents will go back on the market. The country will have to stay stocked up and build a rainy day reserve, but we’re not out of resources just yet.

HME: Will we see the use of BiPAP to treat patients?

Hoyt: It’s not the primary device to treat COVID-19—it’s the secondary solution in the event of running out of vents. In New York, there’s a perfect example. They are setting up hospitals in the park and looking for any machines to help patients breathe better without unnecessary stress.

HME: CMS has relaxed many of its requirements to get patients treated quickly. Has that helped?

Hoyt: It’s already helped in getting patients treated in the home. Everything CMS has done has been nothing but helpful in this crisis. If we could get respiratory therapists to be allowed to do telehealth visits that would be a huge win for our industry. We could do more working remotely. We could protect our clinicians from having to go out and be a carrier of this disease and be exposed to it. RTs are among the most valuable links right now and we need to protect them as much as we can.

HME: Will this experience add weight to the industry’s argument that ventilators should be excluded from the competitive bidding program?

Hoyt: Ventilators are very much a life support device. It is the end stages of life we are managing. Thinking about frequent and substantial use—that’s hard to put into a bidding world. I’m hoping that if anything good comes out of this crisis, it’s that (CMS realizes) we need more therapists in the home to treat these end-of-life patients to prevent this hospital surge that’s happening right now.