One of the main concerns for health systems across the state, and the country, is the shortage of respirators for COVID-19 patients. One local professor has done his part to assist in finding a possible solution.

Mohawk Valley Community College Professor Bryan Alguire was one of three people tasked with assisting Upstate University Hospital to find a solution to a serious inventory problem. The hospital was dealing with a shortage of powered, air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) for staff.

MVCC officials say 1999 MVCC graduate Joe Boardman and his wife, Kathyrn, both work at Upstate and when they realized the problem they were dealing with, they reached out to Alguire for help. The battery-operated devices are used by medical staff to provide positive airflow through a filter, cartridge, or canister to a hood or face piece, and are used while working in contaminated spaces. The main problem was singe-use tubing were failing as hospital staff tried to clean them. Replacement tubes were placed on back-order until June.

MVCC officials said something had to be done. They say,

The team, which included Alguire; Walter Zarnoch III, owner of ABC Prototyping, LLC in Marcy, N.Y.; and Walter Zarnoch Jr., adjunct instructor in the College of Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, N.Y., was able to reverse engineer the units and create a new coupler design that could fit a different plastic tubing that is currently in stock. Within 24 hours, the team machined a prototype and had the design approved, then a company in Syracuse machined the parts and assembled the tubing.

Professor Alguire has been teaching at MVCC for over a decade and is a professor of CNC machining, and previously worked for CONMED, a global company that develops and sells medical devices and equipment. It's always great to see a CNY local doing big things.