"I got tired of my nasal cannula always falling to the floor."

Hi! My name is Melissa Egts. That's my husband and co-founder next to me in the picture above. I've been using oxygen full-time since 2017. I invented the Respiratory Shield when I went looking for a cover for my nasal cannula that would attach to the bag I carry my oxygen in. I wanted to store my nasal cannula somewhere better than the floor LOL.


So, I headed to Amazon to buy a nasal cannula cover. To my astonishment, I couldn't find a nasal cannula cover to buy anywhere on the internet! But I STILL had the problem and boy did it annoy me.


So here's what happened. I know about 3D printing because my daughter's robotics team used one to print parts. So I used a 3D printer at a local college to make my first nasal cannula cover prototype. Then I hired a product designer, a CAD specialist, then a 3D printer to make prototypes...then a patent lawyer. 

Somewhere along the journey, I realized I hadn't just solved my problem, I might have solved a larger one. When I was younger, I was hospitalized a lot. I mean a LOT. When I thought back to all the times I've been hospitalized,

I realized there isn't a safe place to put a nasal cannula in a hospital room when it's off the face. 

Then coronavirus hit. 

Like you, I've been hearing many stories about how fast coronavirus spreads through nursing homes. My heart hurts for nursing home residents and their families. 


Coronavirus made me fully realize that putting a nasal cannula in your nose that has touched anything in a hospital or nursing home room is like putting a nasal cannula in your nose that 10 other sick people have used. It's not a good idea, but it's the way it has always been done. We believe nasal cannula prongs are an unrecognized source of infection and cross-contamination and our nasal cannula cover solves the problem by keeping the prongs clean. We are on a mission.


"Common sense dictates you don't throw it down everywhere," John Linnell, EFFORTS boardmember and COPD advocate said when I discussed nasal cannulas with him. We couldn't agree more.

This is a problem for a lot of people. Did you know the U.S. has over 6,000 hospitals and 15,000 nursing homes? There are 360,000,000 hospital admissions annually and 1.7 million licensed nursing home beds.


Imagine how many people in those facilities are using oxygen. Each person is taking their nasal cannula off several times a day and putting it down on high touch surfaces where the prongs can pick up germs and are exposed to whatever is in the air- including other people's coughs and sneezes. Then, they put the nasal cannula back into their nose. They take it off to eat, sleep, blow their nose, wash their face... and go to the bathroom without all the tubing while the nurse isn't watching. They take it off because they don't like the way it looks. Medical professionals take them off, too, to give care. It's a big problem.

For example, my friend, a physician assistant, said when she did her rotation in the x-ray department at a hospital, "those things were always on the floor." Can you imagine having no other choice than to put a nasal cannula in your nose that has been on the floor of a hospital? Nasal cannulas lock securely into the Respiratory Shield and stay off of the floor.

If you are a nurse, doctor, respiratory therapist, or work with patients who use oxygen in any way I hope by now you are having the same "I shouldn't be doing that" shock realization that I gave to my neighbor, an ER nurse, when I explained my product to her. She regularly hangs nasal cannulas over oxygen flow meters.

Soon, she will have a choice - a safe place to put a nasal cannula - our oxygen accessory called the Respiratory Shield.


I've been giving that same lightbulb moment to a lot of people when I meet with them to discuss Respiratory Shield. From respiratory therapists to doctors and healthcare administrators the reaction has been nothing but positive.


There's a good reason for that: great product-market fit. It's like this. My asthma inhaler has a cover. The end of the nasal cannula not in my nose is connected to a filter. It's not logical that my nasal cannula doesn't have a cover to go over the prongs when it is not in use. As a consequence, millions of people are breathing oxygen through nasal cannula prongs that are constantly being exposed to high touch surfaces and other people's coughs and sneezes. Why are we delivering clean air to patients through dirty nasal cannula prongs.

And by the way, the reverse is true, too. Every time one of those millions of people put their nasal cannula down, they are depositing their potentially infectious nasal secretions on items in the room other people touch, like beds, bed rails, and over the bed tables. Even the bathroom doorknob.

Because of coronavirus, I am determined to get the Respiratory Shield to market. We're [thisclose] to beginning to manufacture our plastic injection molds and register with the FDA. This mission is  as personal as it can be.

Recently, I was selected to join the Spring 2020 cohort of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corporation. Through the process of discovering my value proposition, I found out a local hospital liked the Respiratory Shield  nasal cannula cover because they can use it to hang oxygen tubing off the floor and out of the way so no-one trips on it. One respiratory therapist I talked to wants to use it to teach respiratory hygiene to her patients and for COPD outreach because she thinks it could help to reduce hospital re-admissions. A hospital executive I talked to likes the Respiratory Shield for all those reasons and because it improves the patient experience and it can be branded with the hospital's name. Clearly, the Respiratory Shield has great product market fit.


I like to say we are re-inventing the nasal cannula by adding a cover for the nasal prongs.


Today, I'm located at Bounce Innovation Hub and I'm working hard to get the Respiratory Shield available for purchase by individuals, hospitals, and nursing homes. Three hospitals are evaluating it. I have a first customer and other medical facilities are planning demonstration projects.


My lungs were first damaged from a bad influenza virus when I was three. I know the damage respiratory infections can do to the body. This product is so needed to prevent patients on oxygen from accumulating more damage to their lungs from infections. It's my mission.


That's why I need to talk to you. We're moving forward every day and we invite you to join us. Please fill out the information contact form if you'd like a sample to evaluate.​ I love talking to chief nurses and chief respiratory therapists because they love the Shield. I'd especially like to talk to anyone who has influence into the buying process at a medical facility and group purchasing organizations, distributors, and buyers :-) 

Thank you and the many concerned people who are smarter than me who have helped me along the way!

 

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