How This Four-Time Cancer Survivor Is Making Life Better For Nurses & Patients


Cinde after surgeryI’m Cinde Dolphin, a four-time cancer survivor and a patient who’s experienced 9 medical procedures which included Jackson Pratt (JP) drains.
As you probably know, a JP drain uses suction to funnel a body’s natural healing fluid out and away from the body, preventing build-up, a hematoma or an abscess from forming. Resulting fluids travel through the drain’s tube and accumulate in a lemon-sized plastic bulb.

Dr. Fredrick E. Jackson and Dr. Richard A. Pratt invented the JP drain – almost 50 years ago. The invention came on the scene in the early 70’s, when the two surgeons worked together at the Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton CA. Since introducing the device, discharge instructions for patients has remained the same – use a safety pin or clip to suspend JP drains on your clothing.

Finally, a number of entrepreneurial nurses are disrupting the system – along with this 50-year-old protocol – and they’re making life much safer and easier for patients and their caregivers.

When I arrived at UC Davis Medical Center for a DIEP flap procedure in 2013, I elected to bring a canvas apron, similar to the ones used at Home Depot, to manage drain bulbs after surgery and during my four-day hospital stay. The result was very positive. Instead of waking me for fluid level checks every few hours, nurses had easy centralized access. Also, the apron saved precious time and made it much easier to change my gown. No more un-pinning, then re-pinning bulbs with safety pins. Sharp pins – that can easily prick a hole in and air-tight suction bulb, rendering the device useless.

Over the following six months I developed a prototype that used mesh material to contain the drains, rather than canvas. Using a fine light mesh construction for the apron, now named the Medical Drain Carrier, meant it could be worn in the shower or while bathing. Safety pins and clips fail miserably when there’s nothing to pin them to.

Actual drain carrierThe carrier wasn’t expensive to produce. I boldly approached large medical supply distributors and suggested that they bundle a Medical Drain Carrier with each JP kit. It was fruitless. Safety pins are less than a penny a piece. Even our low pricing of five dollars per unit wasn’t compelling enough for a large distributor to begin including them with drains.

I made the decision to create my own startup, and begin distribution of the Medical Drain Carrier to hospitals as an independent sales representative. The first adopter was the PACU at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. Gary Kurtz, Nurse Manager, strongly felt that the device improved surgical outcome and impacted patient satisfaction. “It’s a very simple low-cost and effective way to manage drains. I think it’s a great idea, based on a patient’s personal experience. She saw a problem, developed a solution and brought it back to us with the intent to improve other patients’ experience.”

Thanks to several enterprising nurses, the Medical Drain Carrier gained hospital approval – including University of Chicago Medical Center, Dignity Health, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente. Over the last two years, the device has been placed in the hands of hundreds of mastectomy patients after surgery. And their feedback is both validating and heartwarming:

“I’m just coming home from mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. When they said I was going home and I had these three drains hanging from my body I thought, Really! How? What do I do? Enter my wonderful surgeon with your product and a suggestion to consider it. The carrier was the answer. I could actually leave the hospital comfortably, without frightening anyone, and looking kind of cute.”

2013-12-03 23.30.06The name KILI Medical Drain Carrier came about as a result of my volunteer experience, soon after recovering from my last surgery. I felt I owed the world a global debt after surviving four cancer diagnoses. I took the opportunity to spend three months in Tanzania working with women in a micro-loan cooperative.

These beautiful “mamas” taught me so much! I was there to provide English language skills and a few basic business principles. However, they taught me compassion, patience, and sewing. I shared the Medical Drain Carrier with the group and explained to them the purpose of the mesh bag. They began constructing several decorative versions of the carrier, using local fabrics and a treadle sewing machine. The results were not only striking but lucrative. A small business was established, as I began importing the colorful aprons to the US where they’re now sold in gift shops.

Home to these mamas is the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. They affectionately call it “Kili,” and the mountain contributes heavily to their local economy – including guide services, coffee bean farming, and cultural expeditions. My wish is to honor these women in Tanzania and their wonderful contributions by calling my innovation – KILI Medical Drain Carrier.

You can immediately begin the process of bringing KILI Medical Drain Carrier to your hospital or clinic. This simple, inexpensive device will offer mobility, independence, and dignity to your patients. For you as a nurse, it can

  • save time and hassle during gown changes
  • reduce the chance of patient readmission
  • manage the risk of infection
  • accelerate recovery
  • impact patient satisfaction.

Contact our Product Education team at in**@Me*****************.com. View our website and video. And if you’d like to support efforts that empower women in developing countries, the mama’s beautiful aprons can be purchased at Asante sana (thank you in Swahili).

Scrubs Contributor
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