Ashok Aggarwal Discusses The Ventilator Project on Positively WV

Posted by Jim Matuga


Apr 6, 2020 4:12:53 PM

What’s a ventilator splitter (v-splitter), and how does it affect the COVID-19 pandemic? Ashok Aggarwal, co-founder and Managing Partner at M&S Consulting, decided to participate in designing a v-splitter to assist with patients who’ve contracted the virus. 

Aggarwal works with a fantastic team. Together, they built a world-class technology and strategy services organization that dedicates to customer satisfaction with a highly talented and dedicated group of enterprise consultants.

THE VENTILATOR PROJECT 

What can West Virginia businesses do – right now – to survive this current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic situation we're all facing today?

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Aggarwal oversees solutions, delivery and has stepped out of the box to create products that are positioned to revolutionize the way people work with process and technology. 

"My role is really to support some of the scientists, engineers, doctors and experts that are out there in this arena. We're working closely with inter-med partners and Mon Health," said Aggarwal. 

What is the Ventilator Project?

Well, there is a shortage of ventilators across the country. Companies are taking open-source designs and according to Aggarwal, "They said they'd like to start building these things out in case there are situations where there are ventilator shortages in our area. We don't necessarily have those shortages today; hopefully, we never will. 

We wanted to try and get ahead of this and my role in this was to say, 'Well, why are we thinking just about our area? We shouldn't just think about the demand that we have right now. Let's go ahead and try to tackle this problem. This is a problem that a lot of other places are going to have or already have in places like NYC." 

The V-Splitter aids in the current ongoing ventilator shortage. It effectively allows for one ventilator to serve more than one patient at once to have doubled the capacity for ventilators. 

Aggarwal spoke of the concerns associated with the V-Splitter: 

"Taking a single ventilator, using it with two patients. Between the two patients may have different characteristics with lung capacity. Currently trying to make improvements on the designs out there to address the issue of two patients sharing the same ventilator not to spread the virus." 

Aggarwal explains the process for their contribution to designing the V-Splitter.

"We started to outfit ourselves with higher capacity to build out ventilator splitters. Then, we started to encourage improvements in the design that people had put out there. At this point, we've improved the design and are in the process of publishing our open-source design. We'll continue to manufacture it but will allow folks to begin to manufacture our design as well."

"Other collaborations (Mon Health, the WV State Capital, etc.) have been in the works for a while. So, we've already been in contact with one another about other innovations. When COVID-19 came about, it became clear that we've got a team of people here who have skills, capabilities, that can make an impact and an attack on COVID-19. The foundation was laid over the past several months, some friendships over several years and we all jumped into action to make things happen as COVID-19 came out," said Aggarwal. 

Aggarwal has a degree in biomedical engineering. I wondered if it made an impact on the design process. 

"I would think that they don't necessarily need my biomedical engineering expertise, there are other folks involved. I know that they partner with Dr. Paul Gera as well as Mon Health," Aggarwal continued, "They've got a lot of medical and engineering help already. From my background, I'd say my out of the box thinking has been more focused on just getting everyone to think bigger and supporting places outside of Morgantown as well to become a thought leader, an innovation leader that can help not just our communities, hospitals or patients, but other places as well."

LEADING IN A CRISIS SITUATION 

"There's a sense of responsibility, a sense of community that comes about I think in a lot of people - most people I would even argue. A lot of us are just looking for ways that we can help and make an impact. This opportunity presented itself and I think from my perspective and even at M&S and even my career, what I've found is that people are looking for that opportunity to lead and to make an impact. They're looking for a situation that's right. There's a lot of opportunities to make an impact right now," said Aggarwal. 

He continued, "We've actually published some information on how Morgantown people around the country are impacting this area. There's a lot of other people in Morgantown, certainly outside of me that are out there and definitely making an impact as we speak. You really start to see people show what they're made of and they start to show more caring for humanity throughout events like this."

Aggarwal said, "I think we're in a unique situation here where the virus hasn't hit us quite as hard as it has in places like NYC and the Bay area, for example. So, we have a lot of opportunities here with a lot of people who are community-minded and talented at stepping outside. At the same time, we're still able to think clearly to help our community and other communities out there."

"I was born and raised in Morgantown, I’m heavily invested in our community," Aggarwal continued, "I'm beyond impressed with our community here in Morgantown. People can make an impact."

In a time where not much is under control, Aggarwal mentioned how helping others in the community can be positive.

"Doing our part can be quite an empowering feeling," said Aggarwal. 

WHAT M&S IS DOING DURING COVID-19

"We started taking actions early in the process during COVID-19. A few days before businesses went remote, we went remote ourselves. We're already pretty well equipped to work from home. We have a lot of tools and technologies that allow us to do that anyway," said Aggarwal. 

The M&S team has a task force that meets every day. They take the time to address different areas of the COVID-19 event. Every day the team has different leads that report in on a couple of areas related to COVID-19 that includes:

  • Business risks - Mapped out all risks and levels of likelihood as well as their level of impact on the company and our mitigation strategies.
  • Opportunities in the pipeline - Changing each day, services are evolving. 
  • Employee health and mental wellness - Having more frequent check-ins with employees with mental wellness and how they are handling working from home.
  • Virtual Happy Hour - Set up a weekly happy hour virtually as a company. 

"We've got a lot of people that are spending a lot of time to brainstorm ideas and to talk," said Aggarwal.

Aggarwal and his team use the following technology resources to stay connected. M&S has three main tools they use:

  1. GoToMeeting
  2. Zoom
  3. Google Meet (Happy Hour!)

Learn more about M&S and ways you can help during this time here

Listen to the full podcast here.

Jim Matuga

Written by Jim Matuga

Jim Matuga is the founder and President of InnerAction Media, a marketing agency in Morgantown, WV. His new book available on AMAZON, Marketing Matters, was inspired by his regular column in the State Journal. You can listen to his weekly podcast “Positively West Virginia” on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. He has extensive experience in leadership positions with West Virginia media companies, including newspapers, TV, cable, direct mail, radio, agency and digital.