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Walking the Talk

Originally Published MPMN September 2004

EDITOR'S PAGE

Walking the Talk 

It's that time again. The presidential election is starting to heat up and the candidates are doing their very best to convince us that they can make our lives better. And of course, they're all promising that they'll make sure 
everyone who wants to work has a job. Nice words, but whether it will happen remains to be seen.

In the meantime, some medical device suppliers are doing more than just talking the talk. They are taking the initiative and making a difference in the lives of one group of people who may not otherwise have jobs--the disabled. In the United States, there are more than 32 million people with disabilities who want to work.
 
Employ + Ability Inc. (Braintree, MA) welcomes them. In fact, the company's mission is to provide jobs with benefits to disabled people. Ninety percent of its workforce are people with mental or physical disabilities.

"The focus at Employ + Ability is on the ability of the employee, not the disability," says Louis DeHaan, the company's CEO and president. "[Our mission] is really putting people in positions where they can succeed and improve their ability." 

The FDA-registered company makes more than 10 million hot- and cold-therapy products annually, ranking it one of the largest manufacturers of these products in the country. Employ + Ability also assembles Class II medical devices, including pregnancy test kits, as well as makes and packages single-use medical kits.
 
The company receives no state or federal funding. Instead, it relies on the revenue generated from sales to cover operating costs. Any charitable contributions received are set aside for capital expansion and the creation  of new jobs. The company does solicit private investors, whose donations cover the cost of full-time employment of a person with disabilities. 

Another company, Opportunity Medical (Highland Park, IL), also employs the disabled. It has joined Workability International, a consortium dedicated to increasing employment for the disabled worldwide. The group believes that people with disabilities should have the same right to work, and equal opportunity and pay for equal work.

Opportunity Medical is a contract manufacturer of sterile, disposable medical products. They also offer secondary services such as pad printing, precision drilling, manual assembly, heat sealing and shrink wrapping, and sterilization and validation.

Hiring disabled people is a strategy that has paid off for both firms. Their clients are some of the leading medical device companies. Opportunity's customers include Baxter, Cardinal, Tyco, Medline, and Searle/Pharmacia. Employ + Ability produces and fills orders for Inverness Medical, Johnson & Johnson, Tyco Healthcare, and US Surgical.

These two companies should be commended for their efforts. Their success proves that disabled workers are a valuable and effective resource. And it works both ways. With these jobs, the disabled can reduce or eliminate their public assistance for disability entitlements. 

Susan Wallace, Managing Editor

Copyright ©2004 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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