Healthcare Workers Seek Mercedes of Masks

Friday, April 03, 2020

Irvine-based Bio-Medical Devices International Inc. is seeing increasing demand for its purifying respirator MaxAir Systems to fight the Coronavirus.

“This mask is a luxury item—it’s like the Mercedes Benz of masks,” said Frank Ripullo II, founder and managing partner of Lake Forest-based Excelerant Consulting. “This is the same mask that was used during the Ebola outbreak a few years ago.”

Ripullo, a consultant to healthcare companies, was asked by a Washington hospital where coronavirus victims died in February to get the MaxAir masks. He was able to only procure 25 of the 50 ordered because demand was so high.

MaxAir is a significant upgrade from the paper surgical masks that are now sold-out globally, 90% of which are produced in China, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The MaxAir respirator, which costs $1,400 or more each, offers full-face frontal protection; the eyes, nose, and mouth are all covered by a shield. Its design also includes a motor, fan, and filter that are controlled by airflow within the helmet, which also provides protection and constantly purified air.

The mask incorporates an LED display to notify a user of low battery power within the mask, which lasts up to 15 hours. MaxAir is Center for Disease Control compliant for health workers to wear while treating COVID-19 patients, according to the company.

Privately held Bio-Medical Devices was co-founded by Nick Herbert, who is its CEO. The company has also done business as Syntech International, which provides contract manufacturing for the medical device industry.

In 2016, the company sold its Syntech de Baja California division in Tijuana to Stryker for undisclosed terms. For two decades, that unit was the exclusive manufacturer of disposable hoods and togas for Stryker’s Steri-shield Personal Protection Equipment.

Company officials were unavailable for comment at press time. A visit to its 59,000-square-foot facility revealed plastic wrapped pallets ready to move products and a handful of workers.

Category: COVID-19