Covenant Invests in Ventilator Technology that Works with the Body, Enhancing Lung Protection for Neonates and Children

The Covenant HealthCare Respiratory Therapy Team recently received a shipment of 10 brand new, highly sophisticated ventilators for the region’s smallest patients. These ventilators are the next generation of lifesaving respiratory care for the 55-bed Covenant Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) and the Covenant Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Saginaw. Covenant is the largest provider of critical care services to children and neonates from across the northern Michigan region; these ventilators will impact thousands of lives.

The Covenant RNICU and PICU teams have robust quality teams that have extensively reviewed the latest in ventilator options. The ventilators selected were chosen based on the unique methods they offer, including their ability to provide Heliox therapy to pediatric patients.

One of their most important functions is NAVA, or Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist. This advanced technology assesses patient’s diaphragm activity (Edi) to personalize their ventilation. The ventilator uses a special line that syncs with the signal their brain sends to their diaphragm to take a breath. Instead of their body fighting with the ventilator, the ventilator works with it. In the RNICU specifically, clinicians use NAVA to allow our tiniest patients to control their own breathing while on mechanical ventilation. This helps reduce barotrauma (lung injury from air pressure), helps promote successful ventilator weaning, and shortens the time someone is on mechanical ventilations by almost 35%.

While primarily used for neonates and children, this equipment has the capabilities to support adult patients when high demand occurs, such as during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.