- Tell us something about yourself, your background
I grew up in a very small town in Montana (Population 100). I always say that I lived on the edge of town….and so did everyone else. My career path has been a bit circuitous. I first went to college to become a registered nurse. I practiced as a nurse for about 15 years before going back to college and getting my architecture degree. I was able to marry the two professions by practicing as a healthcare architect specializing in the Operational Planning, Programming and Medical Planning of hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Practicing as a nurse enabled me to see firsthand the multitude of opportunities in healthcare environments to affect change through inventing and product development. It was my architecture training that exposed me to the process of thinking out of the box and envisioning opportunities for how things can be vs how things are. I always ask “Why?”. Why do we always do things a certain way? But more importantly, I ask “Why Not?”. Why not think differently and push the envelope? Although my passion for inventing started at a very early age, it has been just these past few years that I have been able to pursue my inventing passion more fully.
- Tell us about the products you invented with a brief explanation
Ventilation Tube Connection System: My first invention, the Ventilation Tube Connection System, was created to help prevent patient deaths for those patients who are intubated and on a ventilator. I remember as a nurse literally tying the endotracheal tube to the ventilator circuit to keep the two pieces connected to one another since they are under positive pressure. This pressure can result in a condition known as ‘pop-off’ where the two pieces can become disconnected. Since the ventilator and endotracheal tube are keeping the patient alive, ‘pop-off’ can be fatal if not caught in time. The Ventilation Tube Connection System redesigns the connection between the ventilator and endotracheal tube to create a quick connect and disconnect feature.
The Trash Tote System: My second medical product was invented with my husband. The Trash Tote System is intended to provide patients with an easily accessible way to dispose of soiled and contaminated tissues and trash at the patient bedside by clipping our product to the overbed table. It is extremely important to provide a patient trash receptacle to keep the overbed table clean to help prevent cross contamination between soiled and contaminated items from clean items that also occupy the overbed table. Keeping the overbed table clean helps prevent the spread of Healthcare Acquired Infections, or HAIs, that cause around 100,000 patient deaths annually. The Trash Tote System provides healthcare organizations with one more product in their infection prevention toolkit.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off?
I like to say “Who made that rule?”. I have always been a rule breaker and hate following rules. I started to see how this approach could work with inventing and product development. Once I started thinking out of the box about current products and environments, the floodgates opened. I truly believe Inventors just see the world differently. There may be a certain situation that produces a ‘spark’, and my brain immediately starts thinking about how a product can be changed or a completely new product can be created. I love to see how my products can improve healthcare environment to help both patients and staff. Providing patient care is very difficult. It is physically demanding and emotionally exhausting. Anything I can do to help staff more efficiently and safely do their work will ultimately result in better patient care. I also like to see how my products can enhance the user experience for both medical and non-medical environments.
- How did you get from idea to finished product?
Although I do have the opportunity to live in paradise, Montana can also create some challenges when it comes to inventing. We do not have a formal inventing community either in my town or in the state. My inventing journey has been very steep and expensive. I did not have an inventor mentor. I wish I had known a few years ago what I know now. I would have embarked on a lot more preliminary research before making some of the decisions that I have made. I had to learn my own inventing process and make some expensive mistakes. It has been my passion and enthusiasm for inventing that has kept me going. We continue to pursue licensing opportunities with our medical products, and our Trash Tote System product currently consists of a working prototype. We are hopeful to be able to bring our product to fruition and make an impact on preventing patient deaths and keeping both patients and staff safe. I continue to explore other medical products and have many conceptual ideas. In addition to the medical products, I also have concepts for dozens of other products in other categories such as home improvement, pets, toys, outdoors, sports, games, organization, housewares, bed and bath, exercise, travel, and home and garden. I am going to focus next on bringing several other products to life, both medical and non-medical. Inventing is great fun, and I look forward to spending time enjoying the creativity that comes from the exploration and discovery of inventing and product development.
- Let us know of useful resources that helped you i.e. Books, websites, software etc
My earliest connection with another inventor was with Brian Fried. I found Brian through LinkedIn, and decided to use him as a resource. Brian is very knowledgeable, and although I had a few phone conversations with Brian, I was able to meet him in person when we were filming Season Five of Everyday Edisons. Brian was one of our on-site coaches, and I was thrilled to finally meet him in person. I am also a huge fan of Stephen Key and Andrew Krauss. Stephen has written books for inventors like me who are looking for a process and methodology to follow to be successful inventors. I have Stephen’s books ‘One Simple Idea’ and ‘Become a Professional Inventor’ and have found those books to be great resources to help me plan my next steps. Stephen and Andrew generously share their inventing expertise and provide other resources to help inventors in whatever stage in their inventing journey they may be in. Connecting with other inventors when we were filming Season Five of Everyday Edisons was such a gift. Inventors inherently want to help other inventors succeed since they know how difficult the inventing journey can be. I am so very grateful for the friendships I made while filming that program.
- Where are you with your product?
The Trash Tote System is in the beginning stages of development and licensing. It has been a long and arduous journey. Persistence and never taking “no” for an answer is key. I believe in my product and the product’s ability to keep both patients and staff safe. Especially in today’s pandemic situation, creating products that help prevent the spread of infection is so crucial. I hope everyone will be able to use our product in the next year should they find themselves in the hospital.
- Website: Click HERE
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