Employees at the Medtronic Energy and Component Center take quality seriously. And for Ginger Johnson, there’s a personal element – she’s a patient, too.
The Medtronic Energy and Component Center, M-E-C-C, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is a huge operation, with 1,200 employees and one single focus.
“Quality is a very critical, important part of what we do. We want to make sure everything we send is 100% quality," said MECC employee Dawit Bekure.
To understand why quality is so important you only need to understand what they make - the inner workings of many of Medtronic’s most complex devices.
“MECC designs, builds and tests components that go into implantable devices like pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, implantable neuro stimulators, implantable drug pumps,” said Tom Miltich, Principal Manufacturing Engineer.
That includes sophisticated capacitors and battery systems, which squeeze vast amounts of energy into very small devices, providing life-saving power for years at a time.
In climate controlled clean rooms, every aspect of the production process is carefully monitored, constantly tested and continually adjusted to make sure every one of the 17.5 million components that pass through here every year is as durable and reliable as it can possibly be.
“You know that everything you do, every piece of product that you pick up, it means something,” said Sue Boggs, Principal Assembler and Team Lead. “It’s saving people's lives every day,” she said.
Most of the time they will never meet the people they help. But sometimes, the person they help, is working right next to them.
That’s the case with Ginger Johnson. She’s a principal assembler and quality team leader. She’s also a Medtronic patient.
“I had my first episode when I was 13,” Ginger said. “I was swimming and I passed out in the pool.”
It took decades for doctors to finally determine that Ginger has a condition called Long QT syndrome, a heart rhythm disorder that can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats.
So now she wears an implantable heart defibrillator, which will shock her heart back into rhythm.
“I think it’s amazing that I work here and I have a device,” Ginger said.
It’s a device made by her co-workers, that passed well over 1,500 inspections before it was ready for a patient. Medtronic keeps track of every person who touches every device throughout the production process. Ginger has a list of hers.
People like Dawit Bekure.
“When I start seeing the people working next to me, and having the device, it drove home how important we are to each other,” he said.
“I remember when I first found out all of the people who worked on my device and I would see them in the hall, would give them a hug or handshake or whatever,” Ginger recalls.
“Having someone like Ginger here, and others that work here, who have a device, it really brings it home, puts it front and center what’s most important about what we do here,” Miltich said.
What they do here drives the Medtronic Mission – to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life. They do it one component, one person, and sometimes one co-worker at a time.