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Nurse Innovators Making Waves in Healthcare

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Key Takeaways

  • Nurses across the country got creative to help care for patients and protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Nurses from Texas created a PPE escape room, and a nurse from Rhode Island developed a mask protector.
  • Another nurse used her own health scare to develop a toolkit for patients to monitor their own symptoms.

Many people have gotten creative during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some were getting crafty in the kitchen; others were making homemade masks from potholders. But these individuals–albeit, nurses–made national headlines for their creative medical innovations that  have both improved  patient outcomes and protected healthcare workers.1

Flu Pandemic Escape Room

Two nurses in Texas designed a a flu pandemic escape room that led to an increase in hand-washing and flu vaccine acceptance at the Temple-based organization.2

The nurses, Gracia Boseman, RN, and Kristy Causey, MSN, RN, from Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, created the zombie-themed high consequence infectious disease escape room in 2017 to boost staff attendance at voluntary infection prevention and control education sessions.2 Not only was their escape room a runaway hit, but the concept proved to be prescient as it preceded the coronavirus pandemic by 3 years.3 Participants were given a pandemic, novel flu scenario and asked to select appropriate PPE prior to entering the room. Once inside, participants had to work as a team to find all the clues in the short amount of time.3

Self-reported data from participants showed a 61% increase in hand-washing and 21% jump in use of personal protective equipment. Attendance also increased from an average of 20 clinical workers per training to 189 clinical and nonclinical attendees.2

Ms. Boseman and Ms. Causey presented their findings June 28 at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s virtual annual conference.2

Health Scare Leads to Creativity

Toi Worthy, MSN, a family nurse practitioner in Ohio, was inspired to create a kit for at-home health monitoring after learning she had high blood pressure 5 years ago.4

Ms. Worthy discovered her condition by mistake. She was demonstrating the proper way to take your blood pressure to a patient when she noticed her own blood pressure was higher than normal. Following her own diagnosis, she created “Doc in a Box” that includes a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, a wrist blood pressure cuff, an oral or axillary thermometer and a contactless thermometer.5

The kit is designed to help consumers monitor their vitals to address any health concerns before they become more serious.4 

Improving Pandemic Preparedness

An Atlanta-based nurse who contracted COVID-19 while working on the pandemic’s front line launched a consulting company to help organizations improve pandemic preparedness.6 Therefore, Rachell Dumas, RN, founded Onward Healthcare Solutions and Education LLC (OHSE). The company specializes in assisting other businesses with implementing COVID-19 preparedness measures.7

OHSE has assisted more than 76 facilities in metropolitan Atlanta implement COVID-19 preparedness measures and helped numerous frontline workers to obtain BLS, ACLS and IV therapy certifications. Additionally, OHSE has recently developed a scholarship fund for students obtaining healthcare degrees.7

“When I created this business, I had just returned home from one of the most traumatic experiences in my life, working the front line of a pandemic that was claiming so many lives, in a very short period of time,” said Dumas in an interview. “I promised myself that I would make it my duty to assist with flattening the curve in any way that I can.”7

Preserving Masks During a Shortage 

Timothy Aurelio has been an ER nurse at Providence, R.I.-based Roger Williams Medical Center for more than 25 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when PPE such as masks were in desperately short supply, Aurelio noticed that his unit didn’t have a safe place to store N95 masks, and masks were getting crushed and soiled after only a single use. Therefore, he drew up a plan, reached out to an engineer, and came up with a portable N95 mask preserver that you can attach to your scrubs or pants or leave on your desk.8,9

The case is made of  medical grade plastic which is also used for hospital syringes. It also has an additive called WITHSTAND, which is an antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-mold and anti-mildew.9

“We’re fit tested for these masks, and if there’s not a good seal around your face, it’s not going to protect you against COVID or any other airborne disease,” said Aurelio in an interview. “With the shortage of the N95 masks and how expensive they are, this is not only going to protect your mask, but it’s also going to save hospital system’s money on purchasing N95’s.”9


  1. Bean M. 4 recent articles on nurse innovators. Becker’s Hospital Review. Published July 6, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  2. Bean M. Escape room spurs 61% jump in hand-washing at Texas system. Becker’s Hospital Review. Published June 28, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  3. Escape room simulation promotes infection control adherence at the temple VA [news release]. Arlington, VA: Association for Professionals in Infection Control. Published June 28, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021.  
  4. Bean M. Ohio NP creates ‘Doc in a Box’ kit. Becker’s Hospital Review. Published June 16, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  5. Marshall M. Nurse practitioner creates “Doc in a Box” after hypertension diagnosis [news release]. Cleveland, OH: Spectrum 1 News. Published June 8, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021.  
  6. Bean M. Pandemic paves new purpose for Atlanta nurse. Becker’s Hospital Review. Published April 1, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  7. Dominy S. Atlanta nurse creates company to improve COVID-19 preparedness. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Published March 31, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  8. Bean M. Rhode Island nurse invents portable N95 mask preserver. Becker’s Hospital Review. Published March 30, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 
  9. Morse B. Local nurse invents N95 mask preserver. WJAR website. Published March 29, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2021. 

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