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General Motors makes its first delivery to hospitals battling coronavirus

Automakers have been pitching in to help produce hospital equipment for the fight against the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

General Motors (GM), for example, recently confirmed the delivery of ventilators made in partnership with medical device company Ventec Life Systems (VLS).

Responding to an order placed by the United States government last month, the two companies sourced thousands of parts for the ventilators while GM repurposed its advanced electronics facility in Kokomo, Indiana, to produce the machines. The first batch has just been delivered to hospitals in Chicago and Olympia Fields, Illinois.

The new ventilators undergoing testing prior to distribution. Image used with permission by copyright holder

A ventilator helps a person to breathe, pumping oxygen into the lungs while removing carbon dioxide. This makes it a vital piece of equipment in the fight against COVID-19 as the virus can prevent a person’s lungs from functioning in the usual way. A surge in severe COVID-19 cases in countries around the world has put extreme pressure on the supply of ventilators, prompting companies such as GM and VLS to offer assistance.

“Patients deserve access to the best technology to keep them in the fight as their bodies combat the virus,” VLS CEO Chris Kiple said in a release. “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.”

The partnership plans to supply medical facilities with a total of 30,000 ventilators by the end of August 2020, with around 1,000 people from the Kokomo community helping to build them.

GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra described the efforts of those involved as “inspiring,” adding, “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.”

In similar efforts, Ford is working with GE Healthcare to manufacture ventilators using facilities at both companies, while Tesla is also developing its own machine to aid breathing.

Ford has also formed various partnerships aimed at producing personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers that include medical gowns, face masks, and an all-new air-purifying respirator.

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