Company led by Penn State alumni to help distribute refurbished ventilators

Susan Burlingame
March 31, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Hospitals, state agencies and other healthcare facilities are in desperate need of ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic, and class of 1962 Penn State alumnus Gene Chaiken, along with his wife Roz and their son Warren, a 1991 MBA graduate, are doing something about it. Their company, Almo Corporation—a Philadelphia-based independent distribution company—is partnering with California-based Bloom Energy to refurbish and distribute unused, out-of-warranty ventilators.

Gene and Roz Chaiken are the University’s largest Trustee Scholarship donors, having provided nearly 800 student scholarships in the College of the Liberal Arts since 2008. Now they’re focusing their generosity on helping the country.

“Roz and Gene are among Penn State’s most generous and loyal benefactors, and they have a deep commitment to the common good,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “I’m very pleased to see that they and their son, Warren, are using their business network and resources to serve our nation during this difficult time. Their efforts bring honor to Penn State.”

Through their partnership, Bloom Energy will refurbish the ventilators and Almo Corporation will use its vast logistics network to ensure that the ventilators are distributed where they are needed the most. According to Gene Chaiken, former Pennsylvania Congressman-turned-lobbyist Patrick Meehan helped connect Bloom Energy to Almo Corporation to move the process quickly from refurbishing to distribution.

“Pat saw the opportunity and had the wherewithal to connect our companies,” Chaiken said. “Pat called our son, Warren, [Almo president and CEO], to see if Almo could help, and Warren said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Chaiken said Almo is sending trucks to hospitals, state agencies, and other healthcare facilities to pick up ventilators ready for refurbishing and taking them to Bloom Energy campuses in California and Delaware. Once the ventilators are ready, Almo will see that they are distributed to healthcare facilities across the country. Bloom Energy estimates it can refurbish up to a thousand ventilators per week.

 “Our focus has always been on family – the health and safety of our local community and people of this nation is our priority now, and we want to do what we can to help in this time of crisis,” said Warren Chaiken in a March 28, 2020 press release in BusinessWire. “Our logistics processes are organized and efficient, which puts us in a great position to receive the refurbished ventilators from Bloom and quickly get them to state agencies and healthcare facilities so they can be immediately put to use.”

The article also cited statistics announced recently by the Society of Critical Care Medicine, which estimates that 960,000 coronavirus patients in the U.S. may need to be put on ventilators. In that article, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there are 12,700 ventilators in the national stockpile, while "thousands more sit idle, having reached their end-of-service life.”

“The work that Gene and the Almo Corporation are doing is not only an important public service in this moment of crisis, it also illustrates the creativity, problem-solving, and empathy and care that the liberal arts prepare our alumni to bring to real-world problems,” said Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. “This is a very proud moment to be a Penn Stater."   

“This isn’t about profit or public relations. This is about doing the right thing when times like these call on people and companies to help during a national crisis,” concluded Chaiken. “Roz, Warren, and I are glad we can play a role, and that’s our message to the Penn State community. See what you can do to help.”

Additional information and contact information is available online at Bloom Energy's website.

'We Are' stories

The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment — and we want to hear your “We Are” stories. 

Visit news.psu.edu/WeAre to share how you or other Penn Staters are supporting each other to overcome the collective challenges presented by the novel coronavirus. We are! 

Last Updated April 30, 2020