In a time of national crisis, our citizens, governments and businesses are pulling together in creative ways to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to dire needs, we’ve seen North Carolina’s textile companies switching to making personal protective equipment (PPE), our distilleries pivoting to hand sanitizer production, and the innovative college departments and makerspaces throughout the state are using 3D printers make medical devices.
Likewise, Burlington and Alamance County enjoy a close-knit community full of caring individuals, companies and innovators who have shown remarkable ingenuity to help solve local COVID-19 problems with local resources.
Laura Stanfield, director of the emergency department at Cone Health Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, recently leveraged our local network to solve a problem she recognized coronavirus treatment would bring.
One of the critical care functions for COVID-19 is to place patients with more severe complications onto a ventilator, a process that requires intubation – inserting a tube down the patients’ throat. While health care workers are intubating, they must be very near the patient’s face, increasing the risk of exposure if the patient were to cough or gag as the tube is inserted.
Mrs. Stanfield was concerned for her staff and wanted to find a solution. She had seen open source plans for an ‘intubation box’, a device that could protect health care workers during intubation. The plans had been developed from what doctors in Italy and China had been producing to protect their employees.
While there were many ready-made options for sale, Mrs. Stanfield felt they were very expensive and not made nearby. “I wanted something affordable, with a quick turn-around, so I asked Neal if he knew anybody,” she said. “Why can’t we do this locally?”
Mrs. Stanfield’s husband, Neal Stanfield, works as a captain for the Burlington Fire Department and has a large network. Mr. Stanfield’s station had recently responded to a service call from a Burlington machining company, P & S Machining & Fabrication – so he reached out to their owner, Mike Scoggins. Mr. Scoggins was ready to help and grateful for the opportunity to assist Cone Health.
In response P & S, a provider of custom CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication, pivoted their 65-employee operation to develop, prototype and manufacture the Cone Health intubation box with Mrs. Stanfield and Cone Health medical staff. The product P & S makes is a clear plastic box that is placed over the patient's upper torso and head and has two holes for the health care worker's arms to go in, with ample room for the tube and space for the patient to breathe. Mickey Grahagan of P & S says the process is rather simple and that “we have gotten tips on how to improve it and we are standardizing our model. We are very proud to have our guys working on this product.”
After another round of improvements and adjustments, the intubation box was approved for use by Cone Health Infection Prevention staff. Mrs. Stanfield found this solution to check all her boxes: affordable, quickly available, and locally sourced.
Since their initial prototype and approval for use with Cone Health, P & S has made 75 of the boxes, shipping them as far away as Boston, Massachusetts. Requests from around the North Carolina have come in over the last week; P & S has been very happy to fill them, enjoying their niche and capability to innovate.
Our heartfelt thanks to the staff from Alamance Regional and P & S Machining for sharing their story and working diligently to keep our frontline health care workers safe!
For more information on the intubation boxes or the individuals in this article, please contact:
Blake Moyer, Project Manager
Burlington Economic Development
Mike Scoggins, President
P & S Machining & Fabrication
2900 Tucker Street
Burlington, NC 27215
Media inquiries for Cone Health can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org