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Ventilator production will continue at Kokomo GM plant

Work goes on after government contract ends
Kokomo GM Ventillator.PNG
Posted at 4:13 PM, Aug 13, 2020

KOKOMO — Kokomo, long known for its auto plants, can now claim to be one of the country's ventilator production hot spots.

When the pandemic hit in March, hospitals didn't have enough ventilators and the government stockpile wasn't sufficient.

Part of a Kokomo General Motors plant was converted into a ventilator production facility when GM and Ventec Life Systems secured a $489 million government contract to make 30,000 ventilators used for hospitalized patients with severe breathing problems.

PREVIOUS: Kokomo GM plant shifts to ventilator production

That contract runs out at the end of August, but the work will go on. "The need for critical care ventilators continues beyond the HHS order, so after the completion of the HHS contract, GM will hand off operational control to Ventec to continue manufacturing operations in Kokomo, Indiana, along with continued expanded production at Ventec's headquarters in Bothell, Washington," said GM spokesperson Dan Flores.

Ventec and GM began planning the initial project in mid-March as it became clear there would be an increased need for ventilators to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“Until there is a vaccine, critical care ventilators give medical professionals the tools they need to fight this pandemic and save lives,” said Ventec Life Systems CEO Chris Kiple, at the time the contract was announced. "This is an historic effort and a great reminder of what can be accomplished with the power of American innovation and American manufacturing skill uniting together around a singular mission to save lives.”

Preparing for production was not easy. According to GM, the effort involved sourcing hundreds of parts and assemblies from suppliers, the design of a new manufacturing process, the transformation of GM’s Kokomo factory, the ongoing hiring of more than 1,000 manufacturing team members, and the implementation of extensive health and safety protocols in the workplace.