An innovative hospital employee used his 3-D printing skills to support frontline health care workers with creative solutions at VA Loma Linda Healthcare System (VALLHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bryan Zohn, Biomedical Equipment Support Specialist at VALLHS, was recognized as a High Reliability Hero by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) at a virtual awards ceremony March 5, 2021.
“Transforming to become a High Reliability Organization has been part of everything we do at VHA, especially as we have fought on the front lines of this global pandemic,” said Dr. Richard Stone, Acting Under Secretary for Health, VHA. VALLHS focuses on process improvement and patient safety initiatives to increase high reliability, provide excellent care for Veterans and enhance employee experience.
Bryan brought high-reliability work to life when he created innovative solutions to big problems.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) masks were scarce. Due to a global shortage of supplies, VALLHS planned to use, clean, and re-use PAPRs for high-risk procedures in which respiratory droplets are released. Although VALLHS had 200 PAPRs on hand, the attachments to connect masks to respirator machines were unavailable, rendering the PAPRs unusable. Another issue arising from long hours of COVID care was that many VALLHS front line staff developed painful blisters on their ears from face coverings.
As a biomedical equipment support specialist, Bryan typically used 3-D printers to create artificial ears for scientists to use in medical research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryan applied his skill set to design the necessary PAPR attachments, as well as a small plastic device that attaches to face covering straps at the back of the neck. With this device, any person wearing a face covering could adjust the tension of the straps. Bryan designed and printed three different models of this mask-relief device, allowing the face covering to fit more snugly on a variety of faces.
As a result of Bryan’s actions, all VALLHS staff that perform high-risk procedures were allocated a PAPR mask. And because the attachment parts no longer needed to be purchased, his innovation saved the facility approximately a quarter-million dollars. To date, over 2,000 devices have been created and distributed to VALLHS staff.
Bryan was one of nine awardees across VHA to be recognized for exceptional advancements in care and innovation. “Our Veterans deserve the safest, highest quality care. Their care is our mission and we are continuously improving to ensure that every patient receives excellent care every time,” said Dr. Stone. High reliability has become part of the fabric of VHA and is integrated into every role and function.
Bryan’s efforts delivered the agility, experience and expertise needed to support health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling them to provide unwavering support and outstanding health care for Veterans.
Bryan brought high reliability work to life when he created innovative solutions to big problems.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) masks were scarce. Due to a global shortage of supplies, VALLHS planned to use, clean, and re-use PAPRs for high-risk procedures in which respiratory droplets are released. Alt