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GM Kokomo: First batch of ventilators delivered, ready for use

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The first ventilators produced at the General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) plant in Kokomo are ready to be pressed into action, providing lifesaving respiratory care to critically ill patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The first shipments were delivered Friday to Franciscan Health in the south Chicago suburb of Olympia Fields and to Weiss Memorial Hospital on Chicago’s north side. Each hospital received ten units, according to GM.

Another shipment of 34 ventilators from GM-Kokomo will be trucked to Gary International Airport for distribution to other locations.

The systems were shipped just 30 days after initial conversations between GM executives and Washington-based Ventec Life Systems to collaborate on production.

“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 Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra.

In the past month, teams have sourced thousands of parts, transformed GM’s advanced electronics facility in Kokomo for medical device production, and trained Hoosier automakers to become ventilator makers.

“Every single one of these ventilators will make a difference in the lives of critical COVID-19 patients and our other patients with acute respiratory illness,” said Allan Spooner, president and CEO of Franciscan Health Olympia Fields. “We are grateful and inspired by the ingenuity and dedication of everyone behind this truly lifesaving gift.”

Officials from Weiss Memorial said the 236-bed hospital is currently treating 50 patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Weiss said it serves a mostly older population.

“What a ventilator is…it is an opportunity to fight another day,” said Ventec CEO Chris Kiple. “A ventilator keeps patients alive so they have the opportunity to fight the virus.”

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.