If you're at all involved in the maker movement, you're doubtless aware of makerspaces and hackspaces - and you likely imagine them as industrial premises filled with an assortment of tools and components. You may not immediately picture a hospital, but that could all change thanks to an initiative dubbed MakerNurse which recently opened its first makerspace within a Texas hospital, with the aim of supporting medical staff in improving health care through hacking and tinkering.
"Health making takes the art of nursing to the next level," explains Jose Gomez-Marquez, co-founder of MakerNurse, of the concept behind the project. "With the MakerHealth Space, nurses can take that epiphany that they’ve had at the bedside for how to improve the patient experience and actually make it into something they can hold in their hand."
The first MakerHealth Space, located in John Sealy Hospital, Taxas, features everything from adhesives and fasteners to laser cutters and 3D printers. A series of workstations each focus on an individual need, such as fluid control or assistive technology, while a separate station allows the medical makers to capture images of their creations and create how-to documentation for others to replicate it.
Naturally, the hospital wouldn't be happy with its staff using cobbled-together devices in patient care directly, which is why anything created in the makerspace - which is located directly on a patient floor at the hospital - goes through testing via an institutional review board study and is fully sterilised before it leaves the space.
It's not MakerNurse's first health-centric makerspace, but while it has opened a number of mobile makerspaces in US hospitals in the past the John Sealy installation marks its first permanent MakerHealth Space - but hopefully not its last.
If you're interested in learning more about the programme, Hackaday has a more detailed write-up on the initiative including comments from co-founder Anna Young.
MakerNurse has launched mobile makerspaces in several hospitals and nursing schools across the country, including Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital of Richmond, Virginia; Driscoll Children’s Hospital of Corpus Christi, Texas; Maimonides Medical Center in New York; The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; South Shore Hospital of South Weymouth, Massachusetts, Sierra Providence Health Network and Texas Tech University Health System of El Paso, Texas. Health making facilities for physicians, caregivers, and patients are also being developed across the country as part of MakerHealth, the parent initiative of MakerNurse.