By LISA MONTI
While some of her registered nurse colleagues were back to school to become nurse practitioners, Rebecca Capps decided to invest instead in a patent.
She came up with the idea for her product – the StatSupport Belt – years ago, during a bout of insomnia. She saw her belt as a way to organize the tools that acute-care health professionals need on the job. “People were wearing fanny packs to work and digging their hands through the bag looking for stuff. That’s not really hygienic,” she said.
The patent process was two years long but her attorney said, even at that length of time, “it was one of the quickest ones he had ever done because there’s nothing on the market to compare it to,” Capps said.
A native of Nebraska, Capps has worked as an emergency room nurse for 25 years, her entire career. She joined the U.S. Army after nursing school and was assigned to one of the last MASH units that supported the 101st Airborne during the Iraq invasion in 1990.
She was a traveling nurse for a year and a half prior before returning to the ER at Hancock Medical Center in Bay St. Louis.
The belt Capps designed holds a stethoscope on the hip instead of around the neck in a more comfortable fashion and it also has a holster for trauma shears to remove clothing from a patient and a place for items like an ink pen, smart phone and an ID badge.
Also, the belt is made of stretchy material for comfort and has memory foam that supports the back. All the material in the belt is antimicrobial, giving the wearer another layer of protection from bacteria. “The belts are very durable and you can wash them and they still retain their antimicrobial properties. They should last as long as work shoes,” she said.
She test marketed the belt by wearing a working prototype on a travel assignments to a 100-bed Level 1 ER in Miami. “Everybody flipped out over it and asked me, ‘Where did you get that? I want one.’”
Capps didn’t reveal that she was the patent holder because, she said, “I wanted an honest opinion.” The response was all favorable.
For all of its functionality, Capps said the most noteworthy thing about the belt is that all three components are made in the U.S. “The actual belt is made in South Carolina, the clips are made in Laurel, Miss., by an old family business – Richard Plastics – and the memory foam comes from a company in Hickory, N.C.”
Capps said she wanted to make her product in the U.S. “even if it means less in profit. It’s that important.”
Without any advertising, Capps said she has received her first order from a travel nurse company in Omaha.
Production of the belts will gear up shortly after the new year. They will sell for around $40 and will be available online and through nursing catalogs.
The South Carolina company that is making them also makes supply cases and backpacks. “They are very capable of rolling out with lots of them quickly,” Capps said.