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GM delivers its first medical ventilators with more to go to FEMA


The U.S. is currently facing a shortage of ventilators. Here’s how they work and why they are so important in fighting COVID-19.


General Motors has started delivering the critical care ventilators needed for some people hospitalized with COVID-19.

On Friday, GM delivered 10 ventilators to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields in Olympia Fields, Illinois, via UPS and will ship 10 more ventilators to Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

Franciscan Health Olympia Fields received its shipment Friday morning and Weiss Memorial received its shipment in the afternoon. A third shipment of 34 machines will be delivered by UPS to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on Saturday for the agency to distribute to locations in need.

The automaker is partnered with medical device maker Ventec Life Systems to make the life-saving machines in GM’s advanced electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

“Critical care ventilators deliver precise airflow to protect the lungs, include accurate monitors to assess patient well-being, and most importantly, they include advanced controls that help respiratory therapists and physicians wean patients off ventilators as fast as possible,” said Chris Kiple, Ventec CEO.

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GM’s partnership with Ventec started one month ago. Since then, GM said the combined teams have sourced thousands of parts and turned GM’s Kokomo facility into a medical device production plant. More than 1,000 workers in Kokomo will be making the ventilators.

GM and Ventec have contracted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. GM secured a $490 million government contract for the machines.

President Donald Trump initially chastised GM on Twitter for moving too slowly to make ventilators. But he has since praised the automaker after it said it would start building the machines at Kokomo.

White House Assistant to the President Peter Navarro said, “Not only has GM/Ventec and the UAW set a new Trump Time standard in rapid industrial mobilization – just weeks from site construction to ventilator production – the GM/Ventec ventilators are now rolling off the line, and on the wings and tires of Big Brown-UPS.”

Navarro offered a “patriotic White House salute to the full power of private enterprise joining hands with the full force of the federal government to fight the invisible enemy!”

Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Jamie L. LaReau on Twitter @jlareauan.

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