Newsroom Extras: What’s happening at Inveno Health?

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features EditorDuring a June 28 interview, I learned that one of the area’s most prevalent industries – manufacturing – presents a key challenge for St. John’s-owned Inveno Health LLC in downtown Springfield. My conversation with Matt Price, Inveno operations manager, and Keela Davis, technical research director of St. John’s  Medical Research Institute,  will be published in Springfield Business Journal’s July 5 print edition, but here’s a look at the segments of our discussion you won’t find in print.

What challenges have you faced since Inveno opened in June 2009?

Matt Price: Manufacturing. The things that we do are so specialized that it doesn’t necessarily just take somebody who can work plastic. It takes somebody who can work with medical-grade, FDA-approved plastic in a clean room … even though there might be somebody here who could help initially. … We want to work locally and that’s our model – Springfield, Missouri, Midwest and out – but we haven’t found as many as we’d like to because the capabilities aren’t here. We typically (start with) a small quantity for prototypes and testing. I think any manufacturer knows that small quantities are hard to work with, they’d like to have the bigger orders. But we’re just trying to prove a concept sometimes. We can’t prove a concept with 50,000 units. We only need 100 units.

What led to development of the infant surgical table – one of two main projects Inveno has helped take to market?
Keela Davis: Dr. Bharat Shah had been doing cranial reconstruction on infants (when) the bones in the head come together too quickly (and) can no longer grow.  … They needed a way to (position) the patient’s head for full access. … Before, they just took a regular adult surgical table and put IV bags, towels, pillows and gauze rolls to prop the infant up on their stomach (and) balanced the child’s head on its cheeks.

MP: It took about 45 minutes to position. … Making sure the chin’s in the right position, making sure there’s a breathing cavity there … all those little things (cut) the positioning time, the physician knows they’re stable the entire time, and the hospitals can get them in and out faster.

What was changed between Theraworx, another Inveno-assisted product and Hands First, which evolved from that and is expected to hit store shelves later this summer?
MP: One of the big changes we made is that the initial formula wasn’t (Food and Drug Administration)-approved sanitizer. A lot of people don’t know that hand sanitizers are just the same as any other drug, and they go through the FDA. … Drug application processes are very expensive. The Theraworx formula as written was so novel that the FDA hadn’t approved it yet as a hand sanitizer. (But) the FDA has a process for over-the-counter products (and if) they’ve already approved an ingredient, they say it’s OK if you put it in (a new product). We took one of those … an antimicrobial ingredient and integrated it into the Theraworx formula to allow it to be called a hand sanitizer that’s FDA- approved. It’s not an immediate approval, but it eliminates much of the process. … The other changes were to make it a little better for your skin.

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