Kokomo, Indiana – General Motors and Ventec Life Systems has delivered their 30,000th V+Pro critical care ventilator to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, GM and Ventec collaborated to rapidly scale up production of critical care ventilators. In one month, the teams went from an introductory phone call to delivering life-saving technology to frontline medical heroes. The full federal order was completed in just 154 days, with one ventilator completed about every seven minutes.
With the contract satisfied, GM has turned over operational control of the company’s Kokomo ventilator manufacturing operation to Ventec. Ventec will produce VOCSN multi-function critical care ventilators in Kokomo, as well as in Bothell, Washington, in response to ongoing demand during the pandemic. Ventec’s monthly ventilator production increased 80x during the pandemic.
“Our drive to put critical care ventilators into production was fueled by thousands of people at GM, Ventec, and our suppliers who all wanted to do their part to help save lives during the pandemic,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “It was inspiring to see so many people achieve so much so quickly.”
“Our hope continues to be that mitigation efforts stop the spread of this virus. Ventec Life Systems is committed to maintaining increased production capacity for as long as it is needed to ensure frontline healthcare workers have the tools necessary to save lives,” said Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple.
Chicago patient Jeffrey Dickerson says the ventilator was vital to his COVID-10 treatment.
“When I was rushed into the hospital room, I couldn’t walk without pausing to catch my breath. The team at Weiss [Memorial Hospital] put me on one of your machines, and I was fortunate to make a fast recovery. They later told me they were running out of ventilators, but fortunately had received one of the first shipments from the federal government, so I didn’t have to wait for help.”
Many of the men and women who joined this historic effort to quickly ramp up ventilator production felt a strong call of duty to support their families, communities and country.
“When I received information that Kokomo was hiring for its ventilator operations, I was homeschooling my niece. At first, I didn’t respond to the email. But it became apparent this was a historic moment and I wanted to do my part to help,” said assembler Glenn Sandifer.
Robotic technician Ian Cartier added, “It’s much deeper than simply hitting our goal. All of us chose to leave the security of our homes and give 110% every single day to build ventilators. We came in with the attitude that for every challenge we were handed that day, that we would face it, fix it, and overcome it. That collective attitude has brought us to where we are today.”
Shift leader Mike Schroeder said the experience was personal for him. “My daughter is a physician assistant and my wife works for a blood center. But it wasn’t until GM started this project in late March that it hit home for me. The moment I saw our first shipment of critical care ventilators being received at the hospitals by the doctors and medical staff was the moment I realized the importance of what we were doing.”
The unique collaboration between Ventec and GM to build V+Pro critical care ventilators began with conference calls initiated by stopthespread.org on March 17 and 18. The first units were delivered to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. A third shipment was delivered by UPS to the Gary/Chicago International Airport on April 18 for distribution to other locations where the need was greatest.