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Photo of Lori Irvin, B.S.N., R.N., C.P.N.


How Children’s National inspired a mom to become a nurse, and then a medical device innovator

Lori Irvin, B.S.N., R.N., C.P.N. is a NICU nurse at Children’s National Hospital. She has invented several medical devices aimed at improving health outcomes for children. As a contributing member of the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation and Innovation Ventures teams, Lori has participated in MedTech Innovator and KidsX programs and continues to collaborate with stakeholders in the market to advance pediatric device innovation. In the Fall of 2022, Lori will be presenting one of her innovations as a participant in the upcoming cohort for the University of Maryland’s I-Corps Program.

Lori’s journey to becoming a nurse began as a parent at the bedside. Her youngest daughter Rosemary, now 15, was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. She’s had five open-heart surgeries and will be needing an eventual heart transplant. During these hospitalizations, Rosemary was connected to many lines, tubes and drains and frequently tried to disconnect herself. Lori and the nurses would use tongue depressors, tape, gauze, just about anything to try to stabilize the lines and prevent her from tampering with them. This became a great source of frustration that Lori turned into motivation for finding a solution to this problem.

After Rosemary recovered, Lori knew that she would one day again require intensive care and ongoing medical management post-transplant. She was determined to be the best advocate and educate herself on how to care for a child with a complex medical condition. It was the care from the nurses at Children’s National that inspired Lori to go back to nursing school. She knew she wanted to give back to the place that had given her an immeasurable amount of gratitude.

Shortly after she began her nursing career at Children’s National in the Intestinal Rehabilitation Unit, she realized that many of her pediatric patients would disconnect themselves from their lines, tubes and drains, just like Rosemary did. Lori sketched out an idea on the back of her report sheet. In July 2020, she presented it to the Shared Nursing Leadership Resource and Innovation Council. In collaboration with Innovation Ventures, the Council chose Lori’s concept to work on over the next year to develop a family of patent pending devices called Connector Protectors that aim to protect vulnerable connection points of medical lines, tubes and drains.

These devices will soon be tested in an IRB study at Children’s National Hospital. Lori anticipates the data will provide interested partners with the validation they need for commercialization. It is her hope that these devices may one day provide peace of mind to the nurses and patient families and caregivers who need to protect medical connection points.