In partnership with Ventec Life Systems, the automaker will retrofit factories to produce vital respiratory equipment. 

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting all areas of business, and as the need for ventilators skyrocket, companies that normally do not produce medical equipment are changing their focus and switching to ventilator production to help meet the rising demand.

General Motors (GM) is one such company that has stepped up to fill the need. The automaker announced last week that it was going to be supporting Ventec Life System’s production of ventilators. GM will use its auto factories to produce the ventilators, which are needed to support patients and medical personnel as the coronavirus outbreak spreads.

GM partnered with Seattle-based Ventec and #StopTheSpread, the private sector response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to use their manufacturing capability, logistics, and purchasing expertise to aid in building more of these critically important goods. The hope is that by increasing the production of more ventilators and respiratory care products, they can get to hospitals as soon as possible to serve patients' needs.

Ventilators are used to pump oxygen into patients with compromised respiratory systems who are too sick to do it on their own. These machines are becoming vital to the treatment of COVID-19, which attacks the respiratory system. Ventilators are quite pricey and cost anywhere from $25,000 dollars to over $50,000.

"With GM's help, Ventec will increase ventilator production," said Chris Kiple, Ventec Life Systems CEO. "By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster.  This partnership will help save lives."

GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra gave this statement:

"We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis."

#StopTheSpread is a coordinated effort of the private and business sector to support the healthcare industry during this time of crisis. They are working to gather financial support and donations for things like making more equipment, helping school districts feed low-income children, and training workers on the frontline of this crisis.  

"We are grateful for the partnership between GM and Ventec Life Systems, which will enable Ventec to drastically scale production of critically needed respiratory care products. This is a vital step in delivering relief to our healthcare system, which is threatened by the spread of COVID-19. As this virus continues to endanger the lives of countless Americans, StopTheSpread.org is working to unite the business community around a common threat to our economy and our way of life. We know the strength of this effort relies on urgent coordination between the public and private sectors in order to get through this crisis." #StopThe Spread statement from the official press release.

Many automakers across the U.S. have shut down production due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, with the high and urgent need for medical equipment, more may reopen with a different purpose. The production, of course, will take some time as facilities need to be retrofitted to produce the medical equipment; however, the larger-scale production of GM’s factories should help quite a bit.

Right now, we need all hands on deck, and it's good to see GM step up and try to help in this way. Across the country, companies are stopping normal businesses to help produce protective masks and gear, medical equipment, and even hand sanitizer.

What other companies have you heard of that are switching gears to produce medical equipment in the fight against COVID-19? Sound off on the comments.