Schupan Aluminum & Plastic Sales is developing an acrylic box that gives doctors and nurses an extra layer of protection against COVID-19. With thousands of patients around the U.S. hooked up to ventilators to combat symptoms of the virus, an equal number of health care providers are exposed when connecting people under medical care to mechanical breathing machines.
Introducing the AeroGuard
The AeroGuard is a clear acrylic box with two open holes for the arms of doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others to reach through when hooking a patient up to a ventilator. The simple structure of the reversible box can be extremely helpful from protecting them from cough droplets—the spray from just one cough can cover a provider’s face mask, shield, ears, and arms with thousands of virus particles.
Elevating an Idea to the Next Level
The idea for the box was born half-the-world away.
When Brady Beauchamp, a nurse anesthetist with Kalamazoo Anesthesiology, saw a video of cube made by a Taiwanese doctor building an intubation box for an added layer of protection from virus droplets when putting in a breathing tube, he was immediately intrigued. He brought the idea to Andy Bornhorst, a friend and mechanical engineer, for exploration. Bornhorst then created a new interlocking design that provides a significant advantage over previous versions of similar shields, which were glued together.
The new design is easily assembled and ready for use immediately, rather than having to wait for glue to dry. The design’s other benefits mean that the product ships flat, permits compact storage, and makes cleaning easier as taking the unit apart piece by piece allows for better sanitization.
How the COVID-19 Cube Found Its Improved Form
The team of Beauchamp and Bornhorst then contacted Schupan Aluminum & Plastics Sales for materials and found a partner that could make the boxes right away. The Kalamazoo-based supplier regularly ships aluminum, stainless steel, brass, bronze, copper, and plastics to its customers throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and northern Kentucky. It had the solution ready.
“Half of our business is like that of a lumber yard selling brand new material. This 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch acrylic is a stock item for us,” said John Barry, president of Schupan Aluminum & Plastic Sales. Manufacturing can also be done in-house.
The new interlocking design was granted a provisional patent and Schupan Aluminum & Plastics Sales hopes to expand the use beyond the hospitals in Kalamazoo. Production is planned for 4,000 units per week. And the team is ready for the possibility of more.
“All of our employees have been so fired up to come in to work to work on a project like this that they know is having a direct impact,” said Barry.