The fight against coronavirus has been described as the war of this generation, and medical personnel are on the front lines. Their biggest concern is lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard themselves from getting infected by patients who have the novel coronavirus, which has already taken more than twelve thousand lives just in the U.S.

Lauren Wright, CEO of Natural Nipple, has taken on the dire issue of lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel by connecting manufacturers for her product to hospitals in the U.S. The Natural Nipple is a Tampa-based startup focused on producing a baby bottle nipple meant to emulate that of a mother’s actual nipple for bottle to breast continuity and avoiding nipple confusion for babies, the primary breastfeeding barrier for mothers once they return to work. Manufacturing of her award-winning model has been put on hold during the pandemic, so Wright decided to connect her manufacturer with hospitals to produce PPE for medical personnel.

Mission To Help

Wright is an active member of SONSIEL, The Society of Nurse Scientist, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, & Leaders, a nonprofit society which recently launched the SHARE program (Strengthen Healthcare Ability to Respond to Emergencies). They have a GoFundMe page to source PPE for hospitals. Wright is using her platform as the Natural Nipple CEO to help promote their mission of helping to secure PPE.

Wright also filed a patent for a Breast Milk Derived COVID-19 Biological Therapeutic for Passive Immunity, and hopes that further research into this technology will find a way to isolate coronavirus antibodies and be used for potential immunotherapy. She has another pending patent for a Thermoregulatory Transport Device for Biologics that could assist in vaccine development and transport by regulating the temperature of antibodies and proteins while in transit.

Shoe Sanitization

Wright also connected with PathO3gen Solutions to provide six footwear-sanitizing units to Krucial Staffing, in conjunction the Medical Reserve Corps, in New York City. These units, worth a combined $173,400, kill Human Coronavirus 229E (the EPA recommended surrogate for testing against Coronavirus), in just 8 seconds.  The units, donated through coordination with Scott Beal, COO of PathO3gen, are currently being used at the New York Hotel and Marriott in Times Square, where medical personnel being housed there can sanitize their shoes to limit harmful spread of COVID-19 when coming off duty. Beal explained that people don’t clean the bottom of their shoes, and since gravity makes everything eventually settle on the ground, shoe soles are high risk pathogen transporters. The company conducted a study that showed that 77% of people entering a hospital had MRSA or CDiff on their shoes. Pathogens easily make their way from the floor to frequently touched surfaces, so removing them from the bottoms of shoes can greatly reduce the risk of spreading such pathogens, which is especially important in hospitals, where there are so many immunocompromised individuals.

A New World

Crisis unites communities and there has been growing support for those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. As the federal government’s stockpile of medical equipment dwindles, the private sector and nonprofits are stepping up to address the problem. People are making masks at home to donate to hospitals, which, though not medical grade, are better than nothing. Medical equipment manufacturers are making immense donations and ramping up production as much as possible during a time when so many people are out of work. The world’s greatest minds are dropping everything else to focus on solutions to the many problems brought about by COVID-19. Networkers, innovators and philanthropists are collaborating to change the future of medicine, and of PPE procurement. The post-coronavirus world will be a different one, but stronger as a result of the connections made during the crisis.