Greg Wohlford, a shop chairman who helped General Motors workers build ventilators during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, was recently placed on one himself after becoming infected with the virus, according to union officials.
Wohlford, shop chair of UAW Local 292, which represents workers at a GM parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., was admitted to the hospital Aug. 25 in serious condition after being diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a union Facebook post confirmed in an interview by Local 292 President Matt Collins.
An Aug. 27 update said Wohlford had been placed on a ventilator, while a subsequent post on Sunday, written by his daughter and shared to the local’s Facebook page, noted he was “resting comfortably” and that his “lungs were sounding better.” It was unclear if he remained on a ventilator.
Collins declined to provide additional information out of respect for his family. It was unclear whether Wohlford had been vaccinated or how he contracted the virus.
“He’s a great man,” Collins said. “We’re all pulling for him.”
Wohlford’s age was not immediately available. Collins said he was in the middle of a second three-year term as shop chair.
Workers at GM’s parts plant in Kokomo last year helped build 30,000 ventilators to help treat coronavirus patients, after the automaker secured a $490 million government contract to do so with partner Ventec Life Systems. The 30,000 ventilators at the time were more than double the number in the Strategic National Stockpile.
“We were over there every day on the floor with people,” Collins said of he and Wohlford. “We were very hands-on.”
Workers built a machine called a VOCSN: ventilator, oxygen, cough, suction and nebulizer. It delivers concentrated oxygen to a patient, and has a nebulizer that sends medication to the lungs, secretion management that creates an artificial cough and a suction device to keep the patient’s chest clear.
The machine has roughly 700 parts, and GM workers helped build them from April through August of 2020.
“That’s one of the things we talked about when we first started talking about ventilators: ‘Thank God we got this business, let’s pray that none of us or our families ever need it,'” Collins said. “And here we are.”