JVIC & CoxHealth Collaborate to Create Critical Supplies

The global COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals around the world looking for new ways to keep patients and healthcare professionals safe.

While supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) run short around the world, Missouri State University’s Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) has opened its doors to help. The innovation center has been working closely with CoxHealth to create PPE for healthcare workers using 3D-printing and laser-cutting technology.

From Prototype to Production

With the COVID-19 situation changing rapidly, it was important that the concept could be executed quickly. This impressive collaboration saw concepts move from initial idea to production in less than two days.

Scott Rogers, system director of Performance Integration and Innovation at CoxHealth wears a PPE prototype inside JVIC on March 18, 2020

“Challenges like COVID-19 cause organizations to look outside the box to find solutions, which is what we’re doing to help provide PPE for our local healthcare workers,” says Scott Rogers, system director of Performance Integration and Innovation at CoxHealth. “This is an exciting development that we hope will make a real difference for our staff and other health systems across the country and around the world.”

View the full video from CoxHealth on YouTube.

Prototyping Personal Protective Equipment

Using examples of existing PPE, JVIC Research Technician Jon Keeth identified a way to cut and provide the plastic face shields. CoxHealth leadership worked alongside Keeth to develop a design that would use existing and readily available PPE parts. After designing and printing nose pieces on 3D printers and laser cutting the plastic face shields, the pieces were assembled with the existing PPE parts for a finished and reusable face shield.

Each component of the shield can be taken apart and replaced separately, making them both efficient and easy to supply. In addition, each component can be cleaned thoroughly according the hospital’s stringent guidelines and used again.

“We are pleased to be able to answer the call and assist CoxHealth solve an immediate problem related to COVID-19,” said Allen Kunkel, Associate Vice President for Economic Development and Director of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center at Missouri State University. “I am proud that we were able to step up so quickly to design a solution with the CoxHealth team that will meet their needs, and can also be shared with other healthcare systems across the nation.”

Photos of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center and Research Technician Jon Keeth. Photos courtesy of Starboard & Port.

A Commitment to Innovation

Laying the groundwork for innovation and continuous improvement is no easy task. It’s one thing to be nimble and pivot quickly if you’re a startup. It’s another thing entirely if you’re an organization made up of more than 12,000 people in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country.

The challenge doesn’t dissuade CoxHealth. Their leadership remains committed – in terms of time, money, and energy – to continuous improvement and rapid innovation. We witness it firsthand through our ongoing partnership on corporate innovation events and the Springfield Entrepreneurial & Innovation Network.

“We have been purposeful about innovation at CoxHealth. It’s very fulfilling that, thanks to this groundwork, we are at a place to help keep our employees – and many other healthcare professionals – safe,” says Rogers.

While it feels like a lifetime ago now, it was only a few months ago when they blew us away at the fifth annual CoxHealth Innovation Accelerator.

Improving Access for All

The foundation of the shields was created using supplies most hospitals already have on hand. Other pieces required partnering with the innovation center for materials, which was supported by JVIC affiliate Brewer Science.

While this work has been done right here in Springfield, Missouri, CoxHealth intends to share the designs with interested health systems around the world.

In times like these, it’s comforting to know you have a worldwide leader in healthcare in your backyard.