UVU Loans Critical Equipment to Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital During COVID-19 Crisis


As large areas of Utah and the United States practice social distancing in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, one critical factor is the availability of specialized medical equipment called ventilators. These machines allow patients who have suffered lung damage from the virus to continue breathing.

This week Utah Valley University loaned five ventilators, normally used to teach and train students, to Utah Valley Hospital (UVH) to help prepare for patients’ anticipated needs.

Recent modeling by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimated that the state of Utah may require 221 ventilators by the time the COVID-19 crisis reaches its peak.

To help prepare for any possible shortfall, UVH staff reached out to the Utah Fire & Rescue Academy (UFRA) at UVU to see if any ventilators were available. UFRA did not have any, but the respiratory therapy program in UVU’s College of Health and Public Service had several machines that were available due to UVU’s current policy of delivering classes remotely instead of in person.

“The ventilators in question are identical to the ones used in the hospital intensive care units,” said Max Eskelson, director of UVU’s respiratory therapy program. “They give students hands-on experience so they will become skilled and comfortable with the types of equipment they will manage as a respiratory care professional.”

When the request came in from UVH, Eskelson and his team were already prepared.

“We were talking about this prior to any inquiry from a hospital,” he said. “There was and is no question this is the right thing to do. It’s an incredibly hard decision — probably the hardest decision a healthcare professional will ever make — to decide who gets ventilated and who does not. We want to do everything we can so we don’t reach that point.”

“It doesn’t make sense to let our ventilators sit idle when they are in short supply around the nation,” said David McEntire, dean of UVU’s College of Health and Public Service. “The health and medical professions in the state and in Utah County have been very supportive of our nursing, respiratory therapy, and public and community health programs. So this is a small way that we can give back.”