Trump announces new initiative for hospitals to lend unused ventilators to areas of need
President Trump on Tuesday announced a new public-private partnership aimed at allowing hospitals to lend unused ventilators to areas that need them to treat patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus.
Trump announced the new initiative, which he called the “Dynamic Ventilator Reserve,” during a meeting with health care executives at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He said there were 60,000 unused ventilators in hospitals across the country and that the new program would help get the critical devices to areas that need them.
“Hospitals throughout the country currently have 60,000 unused ventilators,” Trump said at the start of the meeting. “Through this initiative, your hospitals are committing to lend unused surplus ventilators to other hospitals if they have an immediate need, and you’ve been doing that. We appreciate it.”
Trump said the initiative would be supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. He said that in the event there is a large lending need for more ventilators, the federal government “will make sure that you get them.”
Certain areas of the country, particularly New York state, have seen huge numbers of coronavirus cases, while other areas have not experienced significant burdens on their medical systems. The virus had sickened close to 600,000 Americans and caused 25,000 deaths domestically as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Tuesday’s meeting included Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, both of whom are leading the federal government’s management of the medical supply chain amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Over a dozen health care executives participated, including leaders from Premier, LifePoint Health, NYU Langone, HCA Healthcare, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, according to the White House.
Trump on Tuesday also touted the administration’s efforts to use the Defense Production Act to compel companies to produce ventilators amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has faced criticism from Democrats and health experts who have argued the president has not used the authority in a timely fashion or to its full force.
As states clamored for supplies, Trump invoked the law at the end of March to force General Motors and later other companies to produce ventilators. Before that, he said signing an executive order allowing him to use the Korean War-era authority was enough to pressure companies to ramp up production of critical medical supplies.
“My administration has used the Defense Production Act, and it’s really had a big impact on companies and companies wanting to get them done and get them done quickly,” Trump said Tuesday.
Trump declared Tuesday that the federal government was a “great backup” for health care providers and said the country was on track to build more than 32,000 ventilators by the end of May and more than 150,000 by the end of the year.
Trump said the federal government was preparing for “any and all scenarios” and also said foreign countries had asked for assistance on ventilators.