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Health Technology Fabrication Lab Generate @ UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Opens to encourage innovation at hospital bedside & clinics

The MedQuarter | November 15th, 2019

Cedar Rapids, Iowa— UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids is opening generate @ St. Luke’s to provide hospital and clinic employees and patients access to world class tools to create and fabricate the future of healthcare devices.

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids partnered with Boston-based MakerHealth for the construction and ideation of an open-access medical technology and learning lab. MakerHealth, a spinoff of MIT’s Little Devices Lab in Massachusetts, is a pioneer in hospital makerspaces, and its principals have over a decade of experience bringing the tools of innovation to the point of care so that clinicians and patients can create healthcare devices. This is the first hands-on fabrication lab of its kind in the Midwest and the third of its kind in the U.S.

Create what you can hold in your hand

generate @ UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids will encourage and enable innovation at the bedside or in the clinic. It will be a designated space in the hospital where UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids hospital and clinic nurses, physicians, team members, patients and community partners can transform their ideas for improving patient care into tangible prototypes to be tested and reviewed for implementation.

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids has worked with MakerHealth and the MakerNurse community for nearly two years through a Makerspace in the Cloud license, hosting seven pop-up lab events in the hospital and community that have resulted in 57 projects made by clinicians, with 11 of those already in use at St. Luke’s and its clinics. These projects include a sensor system, designed and made by St. Luke’s Would Clinic Nurse Christina Ross, which was connected to a wound vac device to alert nurses via text message when the system pressure is low. Another innovation created at St. Luke’s was a 3D printed case for medication vials to prevent needle sticks in the operating room made by St. Luke’s nurse Krystle Bragg, and a silicone frame for a Virtual Reality mask created by an interdisciplinary team including Dr. Benjamin Tallman, nurse April Golwitzer both from UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and students Allie Rausch, Paige Nelson, Wenxia Sweeney, Hayley Walton from Coe College in Cedar Rapids. By launching generate, the UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids community will be able to accelerate these projects and expand the culture of innovation across the health system and community.

“I learned about the MakerNurse community about 18 months ago when I was working on my doctoral project,” shares Rose Hedges, St. Luke’s Nursing Research and local MakerNurse Champion. “The program taps into the ingenuity of nurses. For decades nurses have used everyday materials to improve upon and create new tools and devices, which allow us to provide better care for patients. It’s an international program that supports this work.”

UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids region-wide access to multidisciplinary tools driven by MakerHealth Operating System

generate @ St. Luke’s will have several rooms within the space for collaborative meetings, a workshop area, digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers and a laser cutter, and medical grade fabrication materials for designing and prototyping. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids employees will have access to technology training resources on topics such as 3D printing patient data, creating connected IoT (Internet of Things) health devices, and fabrication of simulation models and smart systems. The facility is powered by a MakerHealth Operating System, which includes onsite technical instruction support (a biomechanical engineer) and on-demand project creation software tools to teach clinicians technical skills needed to build their ideas.

“The best ideas come from the bedside or in the clinics,” said Anna Young MakerHealth co-founder. “Several years ago, we flipped the model of healthcare technology creation by creating smart tools that enable clinicians and hospital staff bring their ideas to life and remain pioneers of their own innovations. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids has a vibrant community of doers and makers inspired by their care for their patients. We’re thrilled to be pushing the edge of clinical design with them.”

In addition to generate @ St. Luke’s Hospital, there will be two St. Luke’s MakerHealth satellite labs with medical fabrication resources at Witwer Children’s Therapy locations in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha. They join a growing network of MakerHealth hospitals including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Massachusetts, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX and Hospital Negrin in Las Palmas Gran Canaria, Spain.

The generate lab and MakerNurse programming at UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids are possible thanks to philanthropy. St. Luke’s Foundation received a $500,000 gift from the estate of Viola Reth, a former St. Luke’s nurse and teacher who passed away in 2017 at the age of 92.

Reth’s gift will support the generate lab renovation, installation and full-time operation of the makerspace. “Viola Reth enjoyed helping others,” said Mary Klinger, St. Luke’s Foundation president. “We know this through the professions she chose and through conversations with her sister, Irene Curtis. We felt the MakerHealth | MakerNurse project was a just the right blend of education and nursing, both of which were important to Viola. We believe this innovative project is a perfect way to honor Viola and her legacy. Her generous gift makes this innovative project possible.”

“UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids is a national leader in delivering healthcare,” said Carmen Kleinsmith, St. Luke’s senior vice president & chief nurse executive. “Opening generate @ St. Luke’s is another way our regional system looks to develop and support a culture of technology and innovation allowing us to help build a model for the future of healthcare.”