Medicom Group supporting Canada’s efforts to combat COVID-19

The Medicom Group, a Montréal-based international medical supplier, has committed to a 10-year contract with the federal government to supply N95 respirators and level 3 earloop surgical masks.

A large automated machine with a series of large bobbin-like rollers containing material to be made into personal protective equipment.
Making personal protective equipment.

The N95 respirators offer protection from sprays or fluids, or in the COVID-19 context, coughs, sneezes and other potentially contagious droplets.

Under the terms of its federal contract, Medicom is producing millions of N95 respirators and surgical masks annually at its new purpose-built Montréal manufacturing facility.

The Medicom Group was founded in 1988 and is now one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of products for the medical, dental, industrial, veterinary, laboratory, and health and beauty markets. It has operations in 50 countries and manufacturing facilities in North America (Augusta, Georgia), Europe and Asia.

The firm, which has 1,100 employees worldwide, will also be manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Quebec government at its new facility.

The federal contract is part of Canada’s commitment towards establishing domestic capacity for the production of PPE today and into the future.

Medicom is growing to meet demand

Medicom is expecting to hire 33 additional employees to operate the new facility.

The company is also in the throes of fulfilling a separate federal contract to import of more than 50 million surgical masks, of which about 10 million have already been delivered.

Currently about 50% of the world’s supply of protective masks are manufactured in China.

“China, France, Taiwan and other PPE manufacturing countries halted export of their own supplies to ensure domestic health care workers and citizens were supplied with PPE,” said Sam Altman, an advisor to Medicom.

A large automated machine with a series of large bobbin-like rollers containing material to be made into personal protective equipment. On the wall behind are large Canadian and U.S. flags hanging together.

“Canada had minimal PPE manufacturing, so we were at the mercy of others,” said Altman. “The government doesn’t want to see that repeated.”

The specialized machinery for the new facility is Asian: some is already in Montréal, and the rest is on the way.

With international supply chains still stressed, sourcing the machines has not been easy.

Medicom’s Vice-President of Marketing, Gayle Padvaiskas, said the effort to source masks and the mask making machinery has required a “Herculean effort” from company employees across the globe: an effort aided in some cases by Canadian diplomats.

But the gravity of the situation has been a motivator for company employees, she added. “Obviously, nobody in the world has had to deal with a situation like this,” she said. “And as much as it is a terrible time for humanity, having a sense of purpose, that you’re working for the greater good by helping to protect Canadian health care workers on the front lines, has really helped.”

Altman, who was directly involved in the contract negotiations with Public Services and Procurement Canada, echoed that sentiment.

“Working with the government to help solve this problem has been an interesting and exciting opportunity,” he said. “It’s not often you get to work on something that goes to the core of public health and safety during a national emergency.”

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