Anna K. Young
CEO, Co-Founder

Medical Device Archeologist, TEDMED Speaker, Fast Company Most Creative Business People, MIT Lecturer.

 

Health Making during COVID-19: The Olson Mask

Meet Clayton Skousen, MakerHealth Fabrication Fellow, and Rose Hedges, Nursing Research and Innovation Coordinator at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

When COVID-19 became an international crisis overnight, their worlds changed drastically:

“Six months ago, there’s no way we could have anticipated that we would be responding to a pandemic,” Rose said.

Within two weeks, Clayton, with experience in textile design, and Rose, a dedicated community builder for health makers and health maker herself, created a mask template that could be downloaded or viewed and easily replicated by anyone, from individuals in their homes to clinicians in a hospital.

Clayton & Rose worked around the clock to prototype their design at their dedicated MakerHealth makerspace, the generate Lab, at St. Luke’s to ensure it was both effective and easy to replicate with common materials.

Before the end of March, Clayton & Rose published their tutorial via PDF and video, naming their design after Lyla Mae Olson, a nurse & early documenter of health making.

Her most popular book, “Improvised Equipment in the Home Care of the Sick”  featured more than 400 nursing innovations she tested that could be easily replicated using materials found in one’s homes.  

The practice, known at the time as “improvising,” is now what we call “health making.”

The Olson Mask has now been downloaded and replicated more than four million times, reaching multiple countries, individuals, and clinicians around the world.

You can find the mask tutorials here (linktr.ee/makerhealth)

Clayton & Rose helped bring critical health making into homes & hospitals around the world and their story is one of many during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But their work and the wide diffusion of the Olson Mask is a testament to the power of a strong health-making culture at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s.

While the pandemic isn’t over, vaccine rollout and continued mask-wearing have provided a hopeful corner to a painful year.

We celebrate the thousands of health makers around the world who came together overnight to prototype and design devices, tools, and yes, masks, to help families, friends, patients, and strangers near and far.

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