CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Utah Doctor’s Invention Could Save Lives Globally For Years To Come

Jun 5, 2020, 7:24 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2020, 1:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When COVID-19 hit, a young Utah doctor and his friend began tinkering on nights and weekends to find innovative ways to help. They took a common item that vacationers use in the ocean and turned it into protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers.

In the process, they discovered their invention could save lives globally for years to come.

Dr. John Pearson and Alex Spencer never dreamed they would be business partners during a global pandemic while they were neighbors at Harvard.

John is a scuba diver. In March, he foresaw a shortage of personal protective equipment among frontline healthcare workers in the U.S. and around the world.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Alex Spencer, CEO and co-founder of True Health.

They came up with the idea at the same time as a Stanford University doctor. The groups joined forces and got emergency approval research money from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“They create a nice seal on your face, and if you put a filter on them, they act, essentially as a respirator,” said Pearson, chief medical officer and the other co-founder of True Health.

The groups repurposed scuba masks to be used on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’re seeing entrepreneurship really marshal around solving some of these really important problems,” Spencer said.

Pearson and Spencer said the masks will fill a critical need in developing countries long after COVID-19 is over.

“In Mozambique, there’s seven ventilators,” Pearson said. They started True Health to market and distribute the masks globally.

“We’ve already sent masks to areas in Africa, into Kenya,” Pearson said. The masks are also in Mozambique, India and the Middle East.

“We were in touch with some of the ICU folks down in Costa Rica and they needed like 200 masks, so we’re working on something for them as well,” Pearson said.

The duo also said the innovation will help hospitals become more efficient and able to save lives long-term.

Challenges do exist, like how to use and clean the masks. Those issues are being addressed with new training software.

“It’s caused a paradigm shift in healthcare,” Spencer said. Safe, reusable masks make hospitals more independent and sustainable.

Made for the sea, the mask is durable and patient-friendly.

“You can actually see the face of your health care professional — that’s really important when you’re a patient,” Spencer said.

They’re seeking investors to expand their reach.

“It takes a little shaking things up to create something new,” Pearson said.

Entrepreneurship solving problems in a crisis and beyond. For each mask purchased, the company will donate one to a hospital.

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Utah Doctor’s Invention Could Save Lives Globally For Years To Come