Medtronic chief honoured for firm’s efforts during pandemic

US medical device giant’s Galway plant scrambled to meet demand for ventilators

Taoiseach Micheál Martin presenting the Ireland-US Council for Commerce and Industry 2021 Global Achievement Award to Geoff Martha(centre), chief executive of Medtronic, with Tom Higgins, president of the council. The award marked Medtronic’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic for a ramping-up of its ventilator prediction in Galway at the height of the global crisis. Photograph: Maxwell

Taoiseach Micheál Martin presenting the Ireland-US Council for Commerce and Industry 2021 Global Achievement Award to Geoff Martha(centre), chief executive of Medtronic, with Tom Higgins, president of the council. The award marked Medtronic’s role in the Covid-19 pandemic for a ramping-up of its ventilator prediction in Galway at the height of the global crisis. Photograph: Maxwell

 

The head of the world’s largest medical device company on Friday received an award in Dublin to recognise the efforts of its Galway plant in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Geoff Martha’s Medtronic was instrumental in supplying ventilators as hospital wards struggled to cope with coronavirus patients in March 2020. Mr Martha, who had not officially taken over as chief executive of the company at the time, was contacted personally by Taoiseach Micheál Martin as the Health Service Executive struggled to cope.

Medtronic supplies close to one-third of the worldwide supply of medical ventilators, making it the biggest industry player in the sector. Its Galway plant, which manufactured about 200 critical-care ventilators at the start of the pandemic, ramped up production fivefold to address the surge in demand in Ireland and elsewhere.

Medtronic also published the plans of its ventilator to allow open-source production as the pandemic took hold.

Mr Martha received the outstanding achievement award from the Ireland-US Council, which focuses on building business links between America and Ireland. It was presented by Mr Martin, who said the pandemic had highlighted the vital roles played by both the US and Ireland in global health and the strong linkages between the two.

“I’m extremely pleased to recognise the critical part played by Medtronic’s Irish operations to support the global healthcare response to the pandemic, and specifically the significant role played by its CEO Geoff Martha in this respect,” Mr Martin said. Medtronic’s work in Galway “under the most extreme pandemic pressure” had essentially saved many lives, he added.

Mr Martha thanked the Ireland-US Council for the award, saying it was a tribute to Medtronic staff.

“We are exceptionally proud of the efforts of our Galway employees for leading Medtronic’s response to the global ventilator demand throughout 2020 and 2021,” he said.

Galway

Mr Martha also travelled to Galway to address staff and announce a further €270,000 contribution from the company to various local initiatives in recognition of the contribution made by its employees and the wider Galway community in increasing ventilator supply for the fight against the pandemic.

The funds will support a pandemic preparedness research project at National University of Ireland Galway, the commissioning of a legacy artwork with Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and development of O’Sullivan Park with Galway County Council.

The funding is on top of more than €600,000 that was previously use to recognise the pandemic response of local staff last year and in grants from the Medtronic Foundation to underserved communities.