“I saw a problem and I knew there had to be a solution,” said Kristi Myers, MSN CRNA, of her work as a nurse at a Level 1 trauma center in Memphis, Tenn.
She had just finished suctioning secretions from a trauma patient’s mouth when she looked at the medical device in her hand – the ubiquitous Yankauer suction instrument – and she needed a place to stash it, in case she needed to quickly use it again. She was forced to do what most medical providers do with the Yankauer – she shoved it under the patient’s pillow. The Yankauer often winds up on countertops, too, but such placements can spread contaminants and infections.
Myers invented a solution to the problem. In late spring 2018, Myers’ first batch of products will roll off the manufacturing line, ready for sale.
Her patent-pending Yankaddy® serves as a disposable holster for the Yankauer suction instrument. The invention features a non-disposable bracket for the Yankaddy® to snap onto, and an adjustable arm and a spring clamp that latches onto bedrails, counters, IV poles and medical equipment.
To help jump-start sales, she’ll exhibit this summer at the annual Association of Prevention and Infection Control conference, which draws infection-control professionals from hospitals and surgery centers across the country. She’s also preparing to help expand the workforce in Volusia County, by adding a salesperson to her team.
As a virtual incubator tenant in the John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex) near Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus, Myers is meanwhile working with Cathy Topping, operations coordinator for the university’s Research Park to try and secure a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant. She’s also reaching out to a MicaPlex partner for business advice.
The problem Myers wanted to tackle is a significant one.
Today, roughly 1.7 million U.S. patients suffer healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) every year. By one estimate, HAIs play a role in 99,000 deaths and add as much as $45 billion to the nation’s healthcare costs. Myers, who became a nurse when her children were one and three years old, saw a real problem with the most commonly used suction instrument in the world and its role in spreading infections. She couldn’t figure out why such a seemingly simple solution for a common problem had not yet been developed.
She continued her education, and several years later she became a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). As the years passed, she read as much as she could about the issue. In one study, she learned that 94 percent of Yankauer suction devices were teeming with bacteria, 24 hours after they were used on orally intubated patients. As Myers suspected, the haphazard placement of used suction instruments was indeed a significant problem.
After months of researching existing solutions, Myers found nothing. She decided it was time to invent one herself. In the evenings and on weekends, she worked on prototype after prototype, using materials purchased at do-it-yourself home-improvement stores until she felt satisfied with her prototype. Her goal was to provide all medical providers with “a place to store the Yankauer suction instrument, thereby keeping the environment clean from its contaminants while allowing a one-handed use of the instrument, adding safety and convenience to the mix.”
“The support that I’ve received from Embry-Riddle has been incredible,” Myers said. “They helped me take my product to the next level.”
For more information on Myers’ invention, see www.yankaddy.com.
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