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Waste Not, Want Not: New Nursing Graduate's Invention Conserves In-Demand Disposable Gloves

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   June 08, 2021

With a newly awarded patent, the young nurse/inventor plans to strategically license her product so hospitals can save money, reduce waste, and 'hopefully save time for nurses.'

A new nursing graduate who noticed the waste from standard boxes of disposable gloves recently received a patent for an antimicrobial shield that adheres to the front of the box, reducing the volume of potential microbes getting into the box while also limiting gloves to be dispensed one at a time.

Ellen Quintana, who just graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, was awarded a patent for her ReduSeal system, according to the university.

"This issue first came to my attention during a lab for one of my chemistry classes my first year at UConn," Quintana told UConn Today, the university's news hub. "No one could get just one glove out of the box, and there were gloves everywhere. We were told that once they fell out, we couldn't put them back; it was really wasteful."

A graduate assistant told Quintana that her workplace placed garbage cans under wall-mounted glove boxes to catch any extras.

"That got me thinking, why don't we stop this problem from happening and how could I redesign the glove box?" Quintana said.

Quintana connected with Christine Meehan, a nursing alumna and then-adjunct professor, to cultivate her idea. Meehan, a healthcare entrepreneur, led the school's innovations activities at the time.

Quintana applied for and was selected for UConn’s IDEA Grant Program, which awards funding to support student-designed and student-led projects.

She created an interdisciplinary team and worked with the School of Engineering’s Senior Design program to create prototypes and what she called "pull tests" to see how many gloves came out of the box with the prototype in place, according to UConn Today.

Because each prototype and round of testing led to adjustments, new prototypes, and more testing, Quintana added an independent study to her course schedule every semester since her first year, which allowed her to have time dedicated to developing her invention.

When Quintana planned to apply for a grant, she needed to add another team member to the application, and faculty member Tiffany Kelley paired her up with another innovation-leaning nursing student, Kelsey MarcAurele.

The two nursing students applied for, and received funding from, several innovation grants.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that emerged in early 2020, Quintana and MarcAurele continued refining and perfecting the invention and that summer, Quintana created a limited liability company, called RN Efficiently.

A year earlier, Quintana had applied for a standard patent in spring 2019. She recently was awarded that patent for ReduSeal.

Now that she has intellectual property and the patent, Quintana is looking for opportunities to license her product.

"I want to strategically license the product so hospitals can save money, reduce waste, and hopefully save time for nurses," she told UConn Today. "Nurses shouldn't have to clean up gloves."

Much of what she has learned from her project will serve her patients well when she goes to work this August as an emergency department RN at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut.

"This process taught me problem-solving and critical thinking skills, when experiments didn’t go well, or I struggled to build prototypes," she said. "As an ER nurse, you have to know what resources are available to help your patients and now I can be the best advocate possible for them."

“Nurses shouldn't have to clean up gloves.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: ACMarker Photography


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Ellen Quintana was a freshman nursing student when she noticed extreme waste caused by the design of boxed disposable gloves.

She invented an antimicrobial shield that also limits gloves to be dispensed one at a time.

The young inventor plans to license the product to hospitals.


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