ALLISTON, ONT. -- Stevenson Memorial Hospital uses a monitor to detect reduced lung function like that seen in patients suffering from COVID-19.

Emergency physician Dr. Oswaldo Ramirez has seen firsthand why patients diagnosed with the virus need rapid assessment.

The Alliston hospital uses the respiratory monitoring device as a game-changer for triaging COVID patients.

Lung function monitoring device

"The device basically gives us a snapshot of lung function on a breath sample," Ramirez says.

It was developed in California and tested at the University of British Columbia.

The monitor was initially meant to assess patients suffering from pneumonia and COPD, but its purpose expanded when the pandemic hit.

"So we knew which patients we could safely discharge home, which ones had to stay with us in hospital on oxygen and which ones we actually had to intubate," Ramirez says.

Each monitoring device costs about $20,000. Stevenson Memorial is currently the only hospital in the country using one.