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So much has changed in our world since COVID-19 was first declared a global pandemic. We understand how the virus spreads. We’ve mastered working in new ways – from changes in supply chains and manufacturing, to how healthcare is delivered, to working from home. We have vaccines, at-home testing, and antiviral treatments. If there’s one thing we learned during the pandemic, it’s that collaboration, determination, and innovation will continue to drive better outcomes for our world.
Employees at our Galway facility, assembling ventilators in spring of 2020.
As hospitals flooded with critically ill patients during the early days of the pandemic, it quickly became clear that the global supply of ventilators would not meet the time-sensitive demand. With patient access in jeopardy, we responded by increasing production. Our facility in Galway, Ireland, introduced 24/7 operations, and, over several months, we increased ventilator manufacturing fivefold. We fortified our supply chain, brought in new partners, and trained new employees. Then we took the unprecedented step of publicly sharing the design specifications for one of our low-cost ventilators so that others could make the life-saving devices.
Today, our ventilators often mean the difference between life and death in COVID‑19.
Applying the lessons we learned from the crisis, we shored up our supply chain to withstand future tests because we know that the best way to prepare for tomorrow is by acting today. It’s why Medtronic provides funding to support pandemic preparedness research conducted by the National University of Ireland in Galway. The research includes assessing the ventilator supply chain and how to improve supply chain resilience, along with improving the skills of nursing and healthcare staff who assist with mechanical ventilation.
Geoff Martha visits a Medtronic manufacturing site in Galway where he announced new funding to support pandemic preparedness research at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
As the world came together to fight the coronavirus, we reached out to collaborators and competitors alike to help support hospitals and healthcare workers. To meet the surging global demand for ventilators, we partnered with companies like Space Exploration Corporation (SpaceX), Elon Musk’s California-based company that manufactures and operates the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. By temporarily producing a critical ventilator valve, SpaceX assisted Medtronic in strengthening our stockpile. We also transformed the way these devices operated to help protect the brave healthcare workers using them. By working with Intel, for example, we expedited efforts to develop remote operation capabilities for our most advanced ventilators.
Before the pandemic, hospital systems and health insurance companies were slow to adopt telehealth solutions. But in just a few short weeks, it became the new norm. We quickly adapted our home-based remote monitoring platforms — typically used to manage those with chronic conditions — so healthcare professionals could remotely assess, monitor, and triage patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. This helped keep at-risk patients safe at home and tempered demand on the healthcare system. Several of our implanted devices can directly connect to patients’ smartphones which also allowed clinicians to remotely check device data without in-person visits. Moreover, our in-hospital remote patient monitoring systems enable clinicians to monitor multiple patients at once, allowing administrators to stretch limited staffing resources.
The coronavirus spares no one, not even our bravest men and women — military veterans. When COVID-19 first hit the United States, Medtronic quickly developed new remote monitoring solutions — based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 — for patients served by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Home Telehealth program. Once the solution was in place at the VA, Medtronic rolled out a similar offering for other hospital systems and even to our own employees.
–Geoff Martha, Chairman and CEO, Medtronic
Since the pandemic began, the resilience shown by healthcare workers has been nothing short of amazing. We know that supporting healthcare workers starts with keeping them safe. In FY21, in partnership with the Medtronic Foundation, we delivered 1.1 million surgical masks and more than 400,000 KN95 masks to the nonprofit International Medical Corps for COVID-19 response in the United States and Puerto Rico. Since fiscal year 2020, Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation have contributed more than $65 million to COVID-19 relief collectively.
COVID-19 will not be the world’s last pandemic, and we must be prepared for the next one. Medtronic Chairman and CEO Geoff Martha told world leaders gathered at the B20 summit that the current pandemic was a wakeup call that demonstrates how we all must adopt an investment mindset toward health to build a better future. And while we recognize the challenging work ahead, we remain committed to helping our healthcare partners recover, rebuild, and redefine themselves.