Coeds repair hospital equipment in developing nations; Kinetic Biomedical merges with Crothall; Sonora celebrates training milestone; Medrad receives customer value award; and more.

Coeds Repair Hospital Equipment in Developing Nations
College students on summer break may be found looking for temporary jobs, bumming on the beach, or, if they happen to be students participating in Engineering World Health (EWH) Summer Institute, traipsing the globe and improving conditions for medical centers in third-world countries.

Participating students are plucked from college campuses throughout the United States and Canada and transplanted to developing nations like Nicaragua and El Salvador for a bit of culture shock and a lifetime of changed perspective. Modern equipment, often taken for granted in US hospitals, is in short supply in countries where operating with interrupted electricity and other such challenges are everyday occurrences.

D02a.JPG (19329 bytes)University of Minnesota student Ben Schnitz works alongside a young patient at a hospital in Nicaragua.

Le (Lucy) He, a Duke University senior in biomedical engineering, was shocked upon her first visit to her adopted hospital in Rosales, El Salvador. She saw that most people in beds were not hooked up to monitors and that the lights in the operating room would flicker on and off throughout the day.

“We made a big impact by repairing fetal monitors for our hospital’s labor and delivery room,” said He. “From the moment we entered our hospital and saw the conditions, I knew my summer experience wasn’t going to be about textbook engineering.”

The five Duke students who participated in the program said they felt that their efforts to analyze, repair, and install health care equipment affected the lives of countless hospital patients.

“My hospital in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, had 22 infant cardiac monitors that were not being used for various reasons,” said Avery Capone, a recent Duke graduate. “Plus, there were numerous defibrillators, electrocardiograms, and pulse oximeters that needed repair. Some were missing parts, others lacked instructions. The amount of work was infinite, so I salvaged the good pieces, got them to the hospital floor in working condition,and instructed the staff nurses on maintenance.”Capone said his experience was “illuminating,” pointing to the language barriers and unstructured workdays as major elements of the challenge.

EWH is a nonprofit organization for students and professionals. Through the program, engineers, biologists, physicists, and chemists are able to apply their skills in challenging international environments to improve health care technology and assist individuals in poor communities, said Robert Malkin, a professor in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke and director of EWH.

“The Summer Institute enables engineering and science students to use their passion and skills in underserved, foreign hospitals,” Malkin said. “This is a uniquely challenging program that requires students’ committed effort to study, learn on the go, and train others in the field. It tests students’ abilities to perform under unfamiliar conditions.”Last summer’s program participants consisted of 17 students—15 men and 2 women.

For more information about EWH, visit www.ewh.org.


Kinetic Biomedical Merges With Crothall
Though the Kinetic Biomedical Services name remains the same, its ownership has changed. Crothall Services Group (Wayne, Pa) has purchased 100% of the ownership of Kinetic, which now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Crothall Facilities Management.

 James Graham

“We are confident that Crothall’s capital, experience, and marketing expertise will lead to a substantial expansion of our comprehensive outsourcing program,” said James Graham, Kinetic’s president and CEO.Graham explained that Kinetic’s 5-year strategic plan, adopted by the board of directors in 1998, targeted large group-hospital corporate contracts as a major focus for its biomedical servicing and outsourcing program. Although Kinetic increased business since its inception in 1988 and made strides to fulfill its 5-year plan, the privately owned company’s anticipated growth did not fully materialize.

“Unfortunately, the major multibillion-dollar group hospitals we pursued as customers demonstrated great reluctance to award multimillion-dollar clinical engineering services contracts to relatively small vendors like ourselves,” Graham said. “It became apparent that we could greatly increase our opportunity to succeed in this targeted segment by merging with a larger, synergistic organization.”

Currently, Kinetic provides services to more than 350 other health care facilities throughout the country and employs in excess of 100 health care engineering professionals throughout 21 states.

Crothall and its affiliates serve more than 500 customers in health care, education, business, and industry with annual revenues in excess of $600 million.


 PatientKeeper Hits Sales High
PatientKeeperĀ® Inc, a Boston-based provider of mobile computing for health care, achieved record sales and product deployments in the first half of 2005. Since the start of the year, 23 customers have deployed PatientKeeper, and the company has secured 19 new contracts with customers across the health care continuum—including group practices, community hospitals, large academic medical centers, and entire health systems.


Sonora Celebrates Training Milestone
The ultrasound field service-training course offered by Sonora Medical Systems (Longmont, Colo) has graduated its 100th attendee. Students are exposed to didactic and hands-on training, as well as probe testing and repair.

 “We are delighted to have graduated our 100th student and look forward to a continued close relationship with the biomedical and clinical engineering communities in developing and providing relevant and effective medical-imaging service training classes,” said G Wayne Moore, president and CEO of Sonora.

The classes are provided monthly and were created in response to the growing number of hospital-based technical personnel with increasing responsibilities for managing medical-imaging assets.


 Medrad Receives Customer-Value Award
Frost & Sullivan has awarded Medrad (Indianola, Pa) with its 2005 Customer Value Enhancement (CVE) award in the multiparameter-monitoring market. The company received the award for its Veris magnetic resonance image-compatible vital signs monitor.

The CVE award recognizes Medrad’s entry into undertreated markets and the degree to which those solutions have met the needs and requirements of consumers. According to Frost & Sullivan, the design of the Veris monitor meets the performance challenges of MRI, has an easy-to-use interface, and provides features that are familiar to users of non-MRI monitors.