GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Prisma Health officials announced Monday that they are collaborating with Ethicon Inc. — which is part of the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies — to make and distribute a ventilator expansion device called the VESper Ventilator Expansion Splitter.

According to the news release, the expansion splitter is “authorized for emergency use only to allow a single ventilator to be fitted with the Ventilator Splitter to be used for two rescuable patients for ventilatory support during the COVID-19 pandemic until individual ventilators are available.”

Prisma Health officials said they received an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the device in response to the need for more ventilators as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our goal is to provide healthcare providers with an emergency use device for critical patients in rapid time at no cost,” Mark O’Halla, Prisma Health president and chief executive officer, said. “We are pleased to announce this collaboration with Ethicon which brings nationwide scale and expertise for the manufacturing and distribution of VESper by a top-tier medical device company.”

According to the release, the initial distribution of the device will be limited to the United States as the health system and Ethicon develop strategies to fulfill orders worldwide.

“Prisma Health experts are working with national COVID-19 teams, healthcare providers and state and local health authorities to identify healthcare providers where emergency use of the device is needed and will be working closely with these teams to monitor clinical outcomes,” according to the release. “Ethicon is bringing its 3D printing manufacturing and supply chain expertise to meet the challenging demand of providing the ventilator expansion splitters.”

“This collaboration will allow us to have the highest VESper device consistency for healthcare providers in need of treating COVID-19 patients in the United States and beyond,” Peter Tilkemeier, M.D., chair, Department of Medicine, Prisma Health–Upstate, said. “We are providing an option to the medical community, reviewed and authorized by the FDA. Each hospital and community needs to decide the best option for them as they begin experiencing ventilator shortages due to COVID-19.”

“Bringing this device to fruition took a village,” Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., chief academic officer for Prisma Health–Upstate and dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, said. “In addition to our founding team of inventors, collaborators and university partners – Clemson University and the University of South Carolina – our sincere compliments to the many, many industry partners who stepped forward during this public health crisis to support us, including Ethicon; Hewlett-Packard Inc. and its Digital Manufacturing Network; Salesforce; AzimuthDS; the Sargent Foundation; and, the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health.”

Healthcare providers interested in the device can complete a request form on