Hospital employees encouraged to invent new products

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(May 28, 2015)- Employees of Community Health Network are being tapped for their innovative ideas.  The hospital network is reaching out to its 12,000 employees in 22 counties, and inviting them to invent new products and programs to improve patient outcomes.  It’s called Community Launchpad and it’s proving to be a popular idea.

“What we try and do is bring our employees outside their daily work habit, into a more entrepreneurial environment, where it’s ok to be wrong, and it’s a safe place to fail,” says Pete Turner, VP of Innovation at Community Health Network.

CBS4 attended a marketing class, where Launchpad finalists, learn about the viability of their product or idea.

Dr. Larry Monn researched the rate of patient falls in hospitals, and found it’s fairly high. So he invented a special vest, which acts like a harness, that attaches to a cord, which is attached to a rod in a hospital room.

The idea is when a patient gets out of bed to go to the bathroom, he or she will be secure in a standing position and able to amble to the restroom, without help and without the injury of falling.

“I’ve fallen in this particular vest probably 30 times or one like it. I’ve never been injured and it’s stopped the fall 100 percent of the time,” says Dr. Monn.

Community Launchpad has helped him understand the complexities of actually getting his vest into hospitals.

“We’re going to have to have a manufacturer, distribution network, sales force and construction for retrofitting rooms with the complete device,” says Monn. “Then there’s the questions: do we license or set up our own company, Nine Lives Medical, to do all of that.”

Brandy Gordon-Smith is a registered nurse, who has done home health care. She realized nurses need a clear and clean surface in patient’s homes, to perform the tasks, which need to be done. She’s come up with a bag whose  hard surface flat sides are elevated by legs. It’s off the floor and stands alone.

“It will be an elevated surface, up away from any pets that might be roaming around or any other contaminants. It will be easy to clean and very organized.” Says Gordon-Smith.

She calls her invention, Elevation Station, and she’s in the midst of developing a prototype.

Sally Searight is a registered nurse, who’s worked nights for a number of years at Community East Hospital. She head from patients, who complained that the light on their  IV pumps, were bright enough to keep them awake at night. She’s developing a covering for the pump.

“We’re still working on exactly what it’s going to be, but it would completely cover the light and make it dark,” says Searight.

Pete Turner is the force behind Launchpad. He organizes the competition among the employees, and then gets the finalists to the Launchpad classes, to further explore the viability of the ideas. He’s seen some success.

“We had one in 24 months that we’ve sold and licensed as intellectual property to a Fortune 500 company, and now they’re in the process of taking it through the FDA approval,” says Turner.

Launchpad has been met with so much success, Turner has been contacted by other businesses, to help them set up  similar programs.

It’s an annual event for Community Health Network employees.  Nine semifinalists are chosen, and those nine make a pitch in front of an audience. It’s fun and useful, something Community Health Network is very proud.

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