Helping Ontarians breathe easier for 25 years

News / General
By Christine Maloney

Since 1994, Ontario’s Ventilator Equipment Pool in Kingston has been providing life-enhancing devices to people of all ages

A lot has changed since Ontario’s Ventilator Equipment Pool (VEP) first opened its doors 25 years ago: if you wanted to use the internet you had to dial-up using a phone line, which would have made the real-time online interactive education sessions VEP’s registered respiratory therapists offer today seem like an impossible dream.

The number of people VEP serves and the space required to offer its services has also changed dramatically over the years. In its early years, the provincial service operated by Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) had approximately 250 clients across Ontario with long-term physical disability or illness requiring machine-assisted breathing, for example, muscular dystrophy (MD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“Today, we support approximately 6800 clients throughout the province and on average answer 800 phone calls for technical and education support per month” says Regina Pizzuti, VEP’s manager. “We are also introducing remote monitoring of clients’ breathing devices, which will allow doctors and respiratory therapists to download and view patient data and make changes to ventilator settings from their computers. This will enhance care for ventilator-assisted individuals for whom clinic visits are challenging.”

VEP is the central provincial depot of ventilators and related equipment for people of all ages, including premature babies with breathing problems, who require these devices at home and who are loaned equipment free-of-charge once they have been approved under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Assistive Devices Program.

The initial location of the VEP was a 1200 square feet space at KHSC’s Kingston General Hospital site on the second floor, in the Dietary wing.

In December 2007, the VEP moved to 640 Cataraqui Woods Drive, its current location, which it expanded upon this year to give it a total of 5900 square feet of customized space. Expanding to the second floor has allowed VEP to bring respiratory therapists, administrators and specialists together in one location for optimal teamwork and problem solving in a more private, non-public space than the main floor. 

By moving some staff upstairs, VEP was able to reconfigure their multi-use offices on the main floor to offer a dedicated client consultation/education room and a conference room that houses the technology that enables respiratory therapists to interact with clients using video-conferencing. The main floor continues to accommodate the reception area, the room for equipment cleaning and disinfection, and the biomedical laboratory where equipment is serviced, repaired and tested.

“On the occasion of its 25th year of serving Ontarians, a sincere thank you goes to the VEP staff, who embody excellence in care,” says Regina. “The success of the program can be attributed to their efforts and dedication.”

For more information, please visit Ontario’s Ventilator Equipment Pool.