Kokomo, Indiana – General Motors has delivered its first VOCSN V+Pro critical care ventilators to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Franciscan Health Olympia Fields received their shipment early Friday morning and Weiss Memorial received theirs Friday afternoon. A third shipment from GM-Kokomo was scheduled to be delivered by UPS to FEMA at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on Saturday for distribution to other locations where the need is greatest.
The deliveries are the culmination of a partnership between GM and Ventec Life Systems that began with a phone call exactly one month ago. Since then, the combined teams have sourced thousands of parts, transformed GM’s advanced electronics facility in Kokomo for medical device production, contracted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide 30,000 ventilators by the end of August, and launched mass production. More than 1,000 men and women from the Kokomo community will be building ventilators.
“The passion and commitment that people at GM, Ventec, and our suppliers have put into this work is inspiring, and we are all humbled to support the heroic efforts of medical professionals in Chicagoland and across the world who are fighting to save lives and turn the tide of the pandemic,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.
Members of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 292 in Kokomo signed the boxes of the first units shipped, offering supportive words to the healthcare workers who will use the devices.
”Stay safe,” “Thank you,” “Hope you can help save lives,” and “Built with love,” adorned the boxes containing the units.
UPS handled the shipments to from central Indiana to Chicago.
Hospital officials welcomed the devices. Officials with Ventec demonstrated the equipment to doctors, nurses, and respiratory care technicians to go over basic functions.
“For a community hospital that was already struggling with budgetary constraints prior to this crisis, these ventilators are a much-needed infusion of critical resources to care for our patients, which includes a significant elderly population," said Mary Shehan, CEO of Weiss Memorial Hospital.
GM and Ford have converted space at facilities that typically make components for cars into ventilator production. Ford plans to begin making smaller, portable ventilators this week as a contract manufacturer for General Electric (GE) Healthcare.
GIE Media will host a webinar Wednesday to describe how the Ford and GE Healthcare partnered with small, Florida-based ventilator company Airon to speed that project.