SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -There's a growing need for ventilators in the United States as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout the country and the Inland Northwest. President Trump has even called on auto manufacturers to make ventilators.
Ventilators help patients breathe during respiratory failure, which is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19. With hospitals near capacity, ventilators and time are running out.
But one Spokane Valley company wants to help in a big way. Keytronic CEO Craig Gates said they can do it faster than the big guys.
"A factory is not a factory. Just because you can make a big car doesn't mean you can make a little ventilator with a bunch of little small plastic parts, Gates said.
Gates' plan was suggested by his niece, who works for General Motors as an engineer.
The company already has FDA 2 authorization and already makes parts for dozens of products including slot machines and infrared thermometers.
This week, Gates tweeted at the President, Governor Jay Inslee and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying "I run Keytronic in Spokane Valley. We have FDA II and a million-plus square feet of factory with 5,000 employees. We can be up and running building ventilators quicker than the automotive guys. Tweet me back."
Gates said his company has the capability of making entire ventilators, but added that they might be in a better position to provide component parts for the devices.
"Our intent is just to figure out how we can get more ventilators in hospitals, so people don't die," Gates said. "So we don't care if they just want us to make the PCBs, if they want us to make a blower motor, if they just want us to make an enclosure, we don't care. We just want to help."
If they do get approval by the federal government, Gates said since they have factories in the United States, Mexico, Vietnam and China, they can be up and running in about 6-8 weeks.