NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A bubble-shaped container goes over a patient’s head sending a supply of oxygen. Nacogdoches pulmonologist Dr. Ahammed Hashim ordered 20 helmet vents at the onset of COVID-19.
"The main thing about COVID is we really like to keep them off the ventilator," said the doctor.
Vents require sedation. Face masks increase virus spread to health care workers. The doctor calls the helmet vent a tool intended to avoid both.
“It helps us provide oxygen added pressure that helps the lungs. At the same time, it keeps the situation isolated so the health care workers aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks.”
A courtesy Laurie Godfrey, director of respiratory/cardio services appreciates for her staff and patients.
"Sometimes we can just do it a day to two days. It's just depending on how well the patient responds," said Godfrey.
Claustrophobia is often the biggest problem in the helmet's use.
“It’s like a jar over your head,” described Dr. Hashim. “Not everybody can tolerate it.”
But as Godfrey reminds patients, the helmet can be better than the alternative.
“They are still able to communicate verbally. They are still able watch to TV, sit up in a bed, whereas in the ventilator, they’re, more or less, bed-ridden.”
Hashim says, "It's not a tool that I could say is the greatest thing we have had, but it definitely helps in several occasions to avoid intubation."
A ventilator treatment, Dr. Hashim describes, is the slippery slope of treating COVID-19.
The helmet based ventilation was first used in Italy. Dr. Hashim read about their use in respiratory illness. They are now made by a company located in Waxahachie.