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This physician-founder is making a device to protect medical staff during intubation procedures

By Stephen Babcock

Dr. Steven Tropello is bringing experience and a network developed while building local startup CoapTech.

Working as an emergency and critical care physician at the University of Maryland School of MedicineDr. Steven Tropello is seeing the lack of protective equipment for medical workers up close.

One particular area is during a procedure in which a tube is inserted into a patient’s airway, called intubation. It’s necessary to place someone on a ventilator, but presents danger of spreading the new coronavirus through the air or touch to doctors if they lack protection.

When Dr. Tropello was in line to perform such a procedure recently, someone handed him a garbage bag.

“I refused to put a bag over someone’s head because I think we can do better than that,” he said.

With emails from colleagues going to Lowe’s hardware store to find supplies, Dr. Tropello was resolved to create a better solution. As a cofounder of Baltimore-based startup CoapTech, he also had previous experience developing a medical device to draw on.

Forming a new company called Drape Medical, he invented a new device that’s designed as a “bulletproof vest” for providers during the intubation procedure. Called CareCove, it is designed to pop up like a tent or umbrella, forming a clear “cove” around the patient. Inside, it creates a negative pressure environment to keep the virus from spreading. It also has arm-length gloves for medical professionals, and is single-use.

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