NEWS
December 16, 2021

Nurse Friends Invent SafeSeizure To Improve Patient Safety

Nurse Friends Invent SafeSeizure To Improve Patient Safety

Neither Joey Ferry, BSN, RN or Taofikii Gafar-Schaner, MSN, RN, co-founders and co-inventors of SafeSeizure, inflatable pads that attach to the hospital side rails and cribs to help cushion patients if they experience a seizure, planned to go into nursing. 

After spending his childhood bouncing around, living in over 30 different places, including motels and school buses, Ferry moved in with his 19-year-old brother at the age of 15 and got his first real taste of stability. Finally somewhat grounded and able to focus on his future, Ferry went on to graduate high school (the first of any of his siblings) and then became the first in his family to attend college. Although he initially planned on going into business, he switched his major to nursing because, as he describes it, it was a “much more secure route” for him at the time. 

Eventually, he moved into entrepreneurship and launched several businesses along the way before successfully launching SafeSeizure. 

Gafar-Schaner, on the other hand, immigrated to the US as a young boy in 1998 from Nigeria and went to college with the intention of being a psychologist or a therapist, before deciding to switch to nursing. However, he decided to switch his focus to nursing when he realized his original plan would take too long and leave him in debt. “In addition to that, I talk way too much,” he quips. 

With two very different backgrounds that led them to the same place, these two nurses came together on a mission to improve healthcare flow and more importantly patient care and safety. 

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What is SafeSeizure?

Gafar-Schaner describes the SafeSeizure as a self-inflating, compact, single patient seizure pad that goes on bed rails for patients who have seizure precaution orders. Specifically, it is meant to solve all the issues that go on at the bedside, such as:

  • It's easy to apply to the bed rail
  • It’s easier to fit in the clean utility room
  • There are no pumps or need to manually inflate 
  • Universal sizing + compatibility 

Interestingly enough, Ferry explains that before the two met, Gafar-Schaner had actually already tried to solve the problems involved with a patient on seizure precautions. “It’s something we nurses [know]--we run into problems consistently at the bedside and we usually just shrug them off,” he says. 

“We started working together on how to really drive this home and make a full-blown solution to a problem that has plagued our industry for 30+ years,” he says. “At the end of the day, we got tired of having blankets around bed rails to protect our patients that happen to be on seizure precautions and realized that there's no other real solution. So we made our own.”

For Nurses, By Nurses

Just like their tagline promotes, Gafar-Schaner and Ferry are both advocates for healthcare solutions that are designed with nurses who are actually familiar with the bedside and what challenges may be present there. 

For instance, with the SafeSeizure, because they were both nurses, they were able to think over every aspect of the product, including what barriers exist for nurses who have been relying on linens for seizure precautions. For instance, they knew:

  • It would be compact due to room restrictions
  • It would need to be cleanable/wipeable thanks to bodily fluids. 
  • It would need to be self-inflatable because valves are lost all the time 
  • That the product would need a strap because it needs to be easily removed in case of emergency

“Without that background experience in bedside, we wouldn’t know all the different gripes that lead people to using linen, and in order for us to feel comfortable launching this product we use, it has to be something that we really use ourselves,” Gafar-Schaner explains. “Nurses will find a way around things when things don't work properly, and so we had to solve every single layer of this.”

Ferry points out that what’s unique about healthcare solution-based products is that both the nurse and the patient are actually the end-users.  

“Nurses are the ones that spend the most time with whatever the product or solution is oftentimes, and we're the ones implementing it,” he notes. “And so, we find true value in the bedside nurse’s experience and the lens that they provide. We believe that is absolutely crucial for nurses who are frontline staff to be a part of every part of the solution, whether it's prototyping or brainstorming, prototyping, testing, figuring out what works, what doesn't, and then all the way along the line to implementation and even sales would be beneficial for a company, considering nurses know how to express that solution to other nurses as well. Nurses find workarounds every single shift, and so, we actually already have solutions to many many problems, but we just don't have at the moment clear outlets to get those solutions out.”

As just one example of how nurse feedback is critical for product development, Ferry and Gafar-Schaner admit that after soft-launching SafeSeizure and doing an in-service with the product to hospital nurses, pediatric nurses asked where the crib pads were. 

“As adult nurses, we didn’t know that toddlers and little ones in cribs needed the pads, or are on seizure precautions, to be honest with you,” Gafar-Schaner says. “And so we went back to the drawing board, got some feedback from the nurses, and created SafeSeizure Crib, because currently a lot of children's hospitals, whether rural children's hospitals or world-renowned children's hospitals, do not have pads to keep the patient safe in their cribs.” 

Integrating Healthcare and Technology

 

One of the primary things that brought Gafar-Schaner and Ferry together to create this product is a passion for utilizing technology in the healthcare space. For instance, Gafar-Schaner recently transitioned to a new role as a nurse informaticist, which provided him with a lot of knowledge about the integration of technology into healthcare. 

“We were frustrated that whenever you step into the hospital you feel like you're going back ten years,” Ferry recalls of their fateful meeting. “It's weird that you go home and your garage door opens and music starts playing and you can heat up your oven on the drive home. But when you step into a hospital, we get very excited when the glucometer uploads to our electronic healthcare records. We have a long way to go, but ultimately, it affects us as nurses and our workflow and patient care that they receive if technology is not up-to-date.”

The two also mentioned the importance of small businesses implementing healthcare solutions before conglomerates as Amazon beat them to it.  

“Amazon and Walmart and a couple of other big players are building their own urgent cares, so they're also building their own healthcare line of services,” Gafar-Schaner adds. “If we're not going to innovate, it’s hard to compete.”

What’s Next

With SafeSeizure now in 15 hospitals across the country from California to Texas, Gafar-Schaner and Ferry are looking forward to completing their sixth straight year of sales and continuing to leverage nurses as drivers of healthcare solutions. 

“We're not the only two nurses that have attempted to go out on an entrepreneurial journey,” notes Ferry. “So we’re focusing on helping uplift our nursing profession, being that just telling our story and letting people know that it is possible to create solutions.”

Gafar-Schaner adds that as nurse entrepreneurs, they also plan on expanding their products based on solving the problems that nurses have in the workplace. Without going into too much detail, the pair plans on working on solutions for 24-hour urine collections, inefficiencies exiting the workplace, and staying clean before coming back home. 

“We're excited to be solving those problems and bringing those things to market eventually,” he says. 

Their future is bright, with doubled sales in the past year and this year’s profits already doubling that. And after 12 years at the bedside and 2 as an administrative hospital supervisor, Ferry sees himself in the role of nurse entrepreneur for the long haul. 

“I'd love to just keep developing new products and working in health care and making changes one idea at a time, and seeing where that leads as far as the profession goes, and connecting with other nurse inventors and entrepreneurs along the way,” he says. 

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