December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Invacare recalls some workers; says goal is to return to full capacity

Invacare Corp. announced Thursday that 143 workers would lose their jobs. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

Invacare Corp. announced Wednesday that some workers will be recalled to work. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Signs of more robust production are returning to Invacare Corp.’s Taylor Street facility with news that some laid-off employees are being recalled.

Lara Mahoney, company spokeswoman, said a small group of associates have been hired. However, the number is too small to quantify. They will be placed in a variety of positions in the facility.

“It’s a small number, but I know it is a goal to return to full capacity at the facility,” she said. “Is this good news? Yes, it is, but we still have a ways to go.”

The number is dwarfed by the number of those laid off between December 2012 and mid-2013, when Invacare was forced to halt the design, manufacture and distribution of manual and power wheelchairs at the plant under a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In total, 235 employees lost their jobs and the company was forced to demonstrate to the federal agency’s satisfaction that it was in compliance with quality regulations and standards.

Mahoney said to that extent, the company continues to work through the process of winning final approval.

“As we previously said, under the consent decree, we had to undergo three third-party audits that were to be submitted to the FDA,” she said. “Two have been filed and accepted by the FDA, and we expect a third one to be filed this month.”

After the third-party audit reports are filed, Mahoney said the FDA will do its own inspection of the facility, which will likely include some time for observation and discussion among company officials.

“After that process is complete, and I have no timetable as to when that might be, we should be given the green light to resume full production at the Taylor Street facility,” Mahoney said.

The consent decree has not stopped all activity at the facility. It continues to produce certain wheelchairs with documentation from customers stating that the Invacare products are the only ones to fit their specific medical needs. In addition, the facility still is able to produce parts and components for other Invacare facilities.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.