82.1 F
San Fernando
Tuesday, Aug 9, 2022
-Advertisement-

Fix for Bedsores

Margarita Clement came to the United States from Aruba to pursue a career in nursing. However, once she started working at a local hospital, paralysis in her left hand that had developed during childhood prevented her from lifting and turning patients properly. Then after her American mentor and father figure fell ill, she was faced with a similar problem in caring for him. So she developed a product to better move patients and protect caregivers. Now, she is launching a company, BuddyGuard Corp. of Sherwood Forest, to bring her invention to the masses. The Boemba, as she calls it, is a lift sling to move wheelchair-bound and bedridden patients. It differentiates itself from other slings on the market by helping to minimize bedsores and provide a safer way of transferring patients. The product incorporates a nanotechnology fabric that offers anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and moisture-resistant properties, providing added comfort, dryness and sanitary conditions. It comes with a pouch on the inside of the leg to hide a catheter as well as a log that attaches to the sling to record when a patient has been turned. Bedsore problem Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, are “wounds caused by unrelieved pressure on the skin,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Atlanta. The government agency states that pressure ulcers remain a big problem in nursing homes with 2 to 28 percent of nursing home residents suffering from the injury. To prevent bedsores, an immobile patient must be turned constantly, which can be difficult for nurses due to the weight of the patient. Larona Taylor, a safe patient handling program manager for Westwood-based UCLA Health, said to minimize instances of pressure ulcers, it’s important to inspect and monitor the patient’s skin, keep the skin dry and use air mattresses to distribute the weight. “It’s a balancing act between making sure the patient has proper care, and the staff is at low risk for injury,” she added. Clement developed Boemba specifically to prevent bedsores. “It (pressure ulcers) is an $11 billion industry, and it all can be prevented,” she said. “The device is a win-win for caregivers and patients.” She launched BuddyGuard in 2014. During the first couple of years, she searched for the perfect material to make the device, worked on U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and ensured coverage by Medicare, Medi-Cal and most major insurance carriers. To get FDA approval, Clement decided not to hire a lawyer. She went to her local library, researched the patent process and funded the endeavor herself. Initially, Clement spent $50,000 of her own money on getting the patent and starting the company, which has grown to an investment of $200,000. Medicare and insurance approval for reimbursement was a separate process altogether that differed by payer type, meaning each insurance company and government entity had different hoops to jump through. But insurance reimbursement is key to a product’s success and adoption rate, thus the company made sure to secure an 80-to-20 split, where the insurer pays 80 percent and the patient 20. In the product development process, the Boemba went through five generations before reaching a final design. It is currently manufactured in Los Angeles. BuddyGuard markets the device to nursing homes, home health care providers and hospice caregivers. The company believes if the facilities are aware of the Boemba’s benefits, they will request the doctor’s prescription on a resident’s behalf, knowing it will help the patient and care team. After the prescription is obtained, the device is assembled – as they are custom-fitted – packaged and delivered to the care facility. Now, the company’s focus is scaling the product, which will incorporate an education and awareness component. BuddyGuard is getting the word out via networking and attending health care events, like the recent HealthX expo organized by Valley Economic Alliance in Sherman Oaks. In addition, it is looking to increase its number of distributors and salespeople to support marketing efforts. The company is currently in talks with distributors in major coastal cities and hopes to work its way into the central part of the country as demand increases. The Boemba looks like a pair of shorts with a back brace attached to it. It has handles in different places to move the patient, while keeping the patient’s hands free. Because the device is custom-fitted, it has a separate chest and thigh piece that won’t slip or irritate the skin. Once patients are bedridden, care providers often turn to lifts and slings with pulleys to move patients in and out of bed. Yet, Rob Fuller, a partner at L.A.-based law firm Nelson Hardiman and former hospital chief operating officer, said some of these devices have created more opportunities to develop bedsores. “A study came out in 2015 and found out what any nurse could have told them,” he explained. “When using a sling or lift with straps, the actual tension on the strap isn’t spread across the area of the strap. The two edges of the strap are where all the pressure goes. It’s like picking up a patient by a couple of wires instead of a big strap.” The Boemba avoids this problem by not implementing straps that touch the patient’s skin. The device covers the majority of the patient’s body with the two custom-fit pieces, starting from the calves all the way to the upper back. Its padding and material allow for more even distribution of the weight as to not cause pressure and abrasion, which causes the sores. Clement is also working on a design for diabetic shoes using nanotechnology fabric which, she said, will be BuddyGuard’s next commercialized product. But currently, the Boemba and its mission – to protect patients and caregivers – remains her top priority. Family invention Clement came to the United States in 1970 and enrolled in nursing school at Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen in 1973. She developed Erb’s palsy as a child and knew it would limit her nursing abilities. At Valley College, she began sketching ideas for how to move patients in spite of her disability. She then went on to receive her nursing degree from California State University – Los Angeles and began working in health care. She later earned a master’s degree in alcohol and drug counseling at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in psychology from California Graduate Institute in Los Angeles. During her time at Loyola, a board member took Clement under his wing and became her mentor and father figure. As he grew older, he fell ill, but Clement stepped in to care for him. “When my American father became ill, he asked for two things,” she explained. “He said, ‘I do not want bad bed ulcers, nor do I want you to put me in a home.’” While caring for her father who was having trouble walking, Clement decided to sew handles on a pair of Bermuda shorts, so she could help support his weight while walking. When her father became wheelchair-bound, Clement added a layer of cushion to his Bermuda shorts by sewing foam into them. This protected him from the wheelchair’s unbreathable surface, which can also cause pressure ulcers. “One thing he liked about the device is that his hands were free,” Clement said. “In the morning, we walked him but he would get the paper. He loved that independence.” From that experience, Clement developed the Boemba, which works very similarly to the Bermuda shorts her father wore. She implemented the shorts’ design, padding and handles to create her commercialized product. “The device provided Papa with safety, dignity and care,” Clement said. “He never fell or developed bed sores under my care (using the device).”

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-