Our team at Little Devices is thrilled to announce the MakerNurse Project!
Our goal is study the behavior of inventive fabrication among nurses in America—small everyday workarounds, hardware creations, and inventions made or imagined by nurses that hold the potential to improve patient care. In our work at creating technologies for easier medical fabrication we have gathered countless examples of nurses constantly being overlooked as hardware innovators in the clinic. Our aim is to change that. With the fantastic support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio, we are meeting nurses from around the country who are examples of MakerNurse behavior.
Over the next six months, MakerNurse will be collecting stories from inventive nurses across the nation to better understand what drives them to innovate and how best to nurture the creative potential of the American nurse. We have some other fantastic partners including Make Magazine and hospitals around the country that are signing up to open their units for MakerNursing (you can still sign up)
In the last few years, our academic research at MIT led us thousands of miles away to find examples of DIY medical technologies being used in hospitals and clinics around the world. There was overwhelming evidence that many of the best medical makers were nurses. They are fearless. They are creative. However, they are also very quiet about it.
We began brainstorming with the Pioneer Team when Lori Melichar approached us about bringing our nursing efforts from global health to the American health system about a year ago.
As she puts it: “We know nurse innovators are out there, making things and using their imagination to solve problems, improve care and enhance the patient experience–whether it’s a paper clip model, an improved catheter, or a new surgical device in the works. We want to shine a light on those innovations and create a culture where nurse making is celebrated and encouraged.”
We have a website set up at http://www.makernurse.org where nurses can eventually talk about their stories of creative fabrication in the clinic. That said, that’s really only a part of our approach. We will be using the initial signals from the site to set up site visits in hospitals and clinics around the country to really understand why and how nurses make things. Eventually, our aim to create tools and resources that can help them do this better, instead of having to rely on outside designers to take over their original solution space.
MakerNurses, we know you are out there! Let’s meet up!
Project Link: www.MakerNurse.org
Everyday we come into the lab, we remind our students that our mission is to converge the enormous creativity of Makers and the Healthcare system.
Dudley Lee was a Hells Angels biker turned fake perfume hawker in South Africa. After some scuffles with the law for selling forged goods he ended in Pollsmoore prison, on the outskirts of Cape Town.
The front page story of this mornings Wall Street Journal described the harrowing experience of prisoners using tuberculosis a weapon:
Dudley Lee in a night raid, the peddler of fake perfume landed in Pollsmoor Prison, surrounded by inmates who threatened to kill him—with their coughing. But in the meantime, the prisoners around him coughed, sneezed, spit and sweated. In so doing, they infected Mr. Lee with tuberculosis, South Africa’s biggest single killer.
“These guys were coughing like dogs, practically sitting on top of me,” says Mr. Lee, 67 years old. “I was busy dying in there.”
Lee sued the South African government for letting him suffer in conditions that led to a tuberculosis infection that could have been prevented.
The article points out several challenges of of a system overcrowded with infected populations of dangerous diseases like TB. We have compiled a set of approaches to tackle these problems that take us to Cambridge, London, and Indiana (go Hoosiers!), more after the break.
Ali got sick three times.
The first time he got sick with smallpox. He had refused vaccination because the shot hurt. He was driving a family who was infected to a clinic at the time. Bad luck coupled with bad decisions but the timing converted him into the last person on Earth to ever have smallpox. While recovering he made sure not to infect anyone else. And smallpox became history. Smallpox is a disease caused by the variola virus. It was devasting: 80% of infected kids died from it. It killed half a billion people in the 20th century. As many as 2 million in 1967.
Diagnostics for the disease include modern day PCR techniques, skin biopsies, serologic tests and ELISA. In 1977, some of these had not even been invented and getting access to things like ELISA in the field were far from easy. Essentially, you could tell if you had the disease once it was too late. This still happens all too often in other diseases like dengue. Ali Maow Maalin became his own biosensor, the worst position to be in for any patient. He survived though.
It seems that he got sick again. This time he got tired of seeing people die needlessly from polio. So in the later years of his life he dedicated himself to becoming a polio vaccinator.
“He would always say, ‘I’m the last smallpox case in the world. I want to help ensure my country will not be last in stopping polio,’ ” Dr. Debesay Mulugeta, who leads polio eradication efforts in Somalia, tells Shots.
Polio is a disease we hear about in Rotary clubs and the typical global health background noise, but it’s not one that is on the front pages of American newspapers like HIV, TB or Malaria. We’ve come a long way with Polio. The vaccine doesn’t even require a shot, like the one Maalin got, just oral drops.
In places like Somalia, it’s recently made a comeback — 95 cases in 2013.
So Maalin got to work again, out in the field, like all vaccinators due everyday around the world.
And then get got sick for the third time: Malaria. Two days after being in the field he got a fever, was hospitalized and died last week.
Maalin won’t be the last person anytime soon to get sick from the last two diseases he ran into. Let’s hope he’s the last real hero of global health who gets forgotten. My quick Google search didn’t find a Twitter handle for him. No Facebook profile. No Klout score. No Linkedin. No awards by institutions who seem to give them out all over the world.
Ali Maow Maalin survived into stateless land, living a life given anonymously to his community. A footnote celebrity in the halls of academia and public health. Let’s not ever let that happen again.
Part 2 of this will look into how we can remember his service. Your ideas are welcome!
WHO grapples with new budget. Note that the US contribution to global health has been significant for decades.
More at Scientific American
Great talk by John Schimmel of DIYAbility on how individuals with disabilities are overcoming their challenges to enjoy the everyday things. I love their slogan “Where MacGyver meets Assistive Technology”
This Sunday April 14, I will be talking about our journey into inventing construction sets for health and recent field insights from our partners around the world. If you are in New Haven this weekend and want to play with Legos, stop by our presentation:
63 High Street
Linsly Chittenden Hall (LC)
New Haven, CT
The conference is a huge gathering of global health practitioners from all over the world. It’s an amazing logistical feat every year! I’m already looking forward to talking with medical doctors who are out in the field where the action is, a group of Swiss inventors who’ve come up with a low cost X-Ray system, and students from the area and across the country who are eager to make a difference.