Production continues despite the corona crisis, despite the chaos of the move, and despite the fact that the new auben company building looks even more like a construction site. "It all hits us in a very concentrated way", says kunibert schafer, managing director at geratherm respiratory. The company, which is based in bad kissingen, develops medical devices that doctors around the world use to diagnose functions of the lungs and also the heart. These can be coarse devices for pneumology clinics, but also small handheld spirometers that a general practitioner can use to measure lung volume.
It is not yet possible to say whether the corona crisis will have a positive effect on a technology company specializing in lung diagnostics. "For us the situation is very ambivalent. We can’t really assess it for ourselves yet", says schafer. There are common uncertainties that many companies have to live with these days: for example, what if employees test positive for the corona virus and have to go into quarantine?. If it is then still possible to maintain operations?
Corona slows demand
However, the concerns are more serious with regard to the supply chains. Geratherm focuses on the development of equipment and software as well as on worldwide distribution via a dealer network. Most of the individual components for the devices are produced by suppliers. Final production, software installation and final inspection will then take place in bad kissingen. "We hope there will be no breaks in the supply chain", says schafer. Geratherm is dependent on producers in asia, especially for electronic and sensory components.
The corona crisis is also putting the brakes on the company economically for the time being. For the hospitals, intensive care space procurement is currently the top priority. There is no money left over in the hospital budgets for the large pneumological devices from bad kissingen. However, there are no plans to reduce production at the moment. Schafer: "we will continue to produce in order to be ready for the time after that." He expects sales to return to normal.
Demand in asia on the rise
Head of development manuel heinz expects the lung diagnostic equipment to be used in the follow-up care of corona patients. "In asia, especially in china, sales have recently increased again", he reports. China, unlike europe, is already several weeks ahead in coping with the corona pandemic. At geratherm, experts suspect that clinics in china are already preparing for corona follow-up care. According to current knowledge, pulmonary fibrosis can develop in corona patients with a more severe course of the disease. "Pulmonary fibrosis can also occur with classic pulmonary inflammation", explains heinz. This means that lung tissue becomes scarred and hardened, and lung volume shrinks.
Such patients require follow-up treatment. However, the affected persons must first be filtered out of the mass of infected persons. "Our spirometry equipment is ideal for such a screening", explains heinz. Geratherm therefore has every reason to be confident.
In principle, the business at geratherm has developed very well since the company was founded in 2007. The one-man business has now become one with more than 20 employees. The company generates around five million euros in sales each year, 80 percent of which is generated abroad.
Because the company has grown strongly, it has moved its headquarters from the city to kasernenstrabe. The new company building has been erected on the site below the police station over the past twelve months. This offers around 1500 square meters of space on two floors.
Work on the new building has been delayed by several weeks. Inside, they have been completed except for a few minor details, the employees have moved and started work there. Work on the building and the facade should be completed by may.