Collapsible aerosolized particle enclosure device setup in an emergency room

Imagine a busy hospital emergency department (ED) filled with patients, many of whom have or may have COVID-19. The need to contain the spread of germs is more important than ever. Early in the pandemic, Liz Hamilton, MD, and Katie Main, MD, Maine Medical Center (MMC) Emergency Department Chief Residents, addressed this growing challenge overnight.

Out of necessity, in response to the ongoing concern for COVID, MMC had already started transitioning hospital rooms to negative pressure rooms, but there was still a need to contain potentially infectious patients while they were waiting to be transferred. As experienced campers, Liz and Katie thought, “I wish we just had a tent to put patients in.” Liz and Katie then realized how they could contain infectious patients while in the ED. They brought their idea to Samir Haydar, DO, MPH, attending Emergency Physician, who encouraged them to develop it.

“I think I told them, ‘Well, go to Home Depot and make it’,” Samir says. “The next morning, I came in and they had.”

A MaineHealth care team member caring for a patient through the CAPE’s openings

Liz and Katie had created the first prototype of the CAPE, or Collapsible Aerosolized Particle Enclosure, a tent-like structure for hospital beds that offers an additional layer of protection for healthcare providers to safely administer high-risk treatments to potentially infectious patients. The first version, made of PVC pipe and simple plastic, fit over a standard emergency department bed, allowing care team members to access the patient through openings in the plastic.

Taking the idea to the next level required assistance, so MaineHealth Innovation connected the team with two Maine companies, Baker, an industry pioneer in biocontainments, and Thermoformed Plastics of New England, an industry expert in high performance films. With the help of these partners, the team soon had a revised prototype that is designed to be an affordable mobile negative pressure device that attaches to a patient’s stretcher, turning most care settings into a safe negative pressure environment.

In early 2021 and with the assistance of MaineHealth Innovation, the CAPE team presented at a special “Innovation Showcase” for more than a dozen senior clinical and administrative leaders. Team members from Baker shared the extensive scientific testing they conducted, showing the device’s effectiveness in containing infectious airborne pathogens. Participants provided the team with additional customer discovery information to better understand the MaineHealth needs and uses for CAPE and offered feedback to further advance the design. Recently, the CAPE innovation was featured in the American College of Emergency Physician’s 2021 “Innovator of the Year” competition and was voted runner up out of four finalists from across the nation.

After securing $20,000 from the MaineHealth Innovation Ignite Fund, a funding mechanism to advance early innovations, the CAPE team received additional funds in fall 2021 from the next level of MaineHealth Innovation funding – the inaugural MaineHealth Innovation Bonfire Fund. The Bonfire Fund aims to advance the MaineHealth mission by providing an investment of up to $100,000 to commercialize and scale an advanced innovative solution.

With resounding validation and use testing, the CAPE has proven to be comfortable for patients, adapts to any bed position and allows providers to observe patients and perform necessary interventions and procedures. Its ability to reduce the likelihood of spreading infection in any healthcare setting from bustling emergency rooms to field hospitals, demonstrates the global commercial potential of this new solution.

NEXT STEPS

The CAPE team has formed a company, CAPE Partnership, and is working with local medical device entrepreneur Paul Fitzpatrick. The team plans to use the Bonfire Fund investment to obtain Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration and plan a clinical trial.

IN THE NEWS
Portland Press Herald: New division of MaineHealth helps turn medical ideas into reality

IN THE NEWS

News Center Maine: New device could expand Maine hospital capacity – December 30, 2021

TEAM

David Eagleson
CEO, Baker

Paul Fitzpatrick
Medical Device Entrepreneur

Elizabeth Hamilton, MD
Former Emergency Resident
Maine Medical Center

Samir Haydar, DO, MPH
Emergency Physician
Maine Medical Center

Kara Held, PhD
Science Director, Baker

Kaitlyn Main, MD
Former Emergency Resident
Maine Medical Center

Paul Tyson
Principal,
Thermoformed Plastics of New England