Persistence and patience paying-off for Chattanooga’s KelCor team

Nearly a year after completing the inaugural “HealthTech Accelerator” in Chattanooga and a subsequent “major design pivot” earlier this year, the Co-Founders of KelCor, LLC have their single-use product ready for introduction into the market with a focus on key strategic partnerships.

“I thought we would never get here,” the always engaging Cory Allison told us recently. She joined with long-time friend Kelly Good to launch the company more than two years ago. The start-up takes its name from the first three letters of the Co-Founders’ first names.

Good, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, first conceived the need for the clean, single-use eye closure and airway securing taping system about five years ago. She describes it as a “better alternative to rolls of tape.”

Now, after months of design improvements based on the feedback from other anesthesia providers, the “KC Airway Taping System” is ready for use in day surgery and emergent care settings, starting in Chattanooga but with plans to quickly accelerate into a national rollout.

Why is a device like this so important? You might start with your own health if you are facing surgery.

As Good told us in this May 2019 interview in teknovation.biz, most items used during a procedure involving anesthesia are individually packaged and designed for their intended use. Rolls of tape, which usually transcend procedures, are among the few exceptions to what is an otherwise sterile environment.

Citing several sources, the KelCor team explains on its webpage that “rolls of tape are a proven vector of virulent organisms and have been identified as a contributor to disease transmission and hospital acquired infections. Hospitals increasingly rely on single-use devices to minimize infection risk.”

That reality changes when multi-use rolls of tape are replaced with the single use “KC Airway Taping System.”

“It’s not tape-for-tape,” Good says. “It’s tape intentionally designed for a specific purpose.” That purpose is to secure intubation tubes of different sizes and also cover the patient’s eyes. “It’s a kit for one patient rather than a roll of tape for many patients,” she adds.

KelCor has applied for a patent for the final design (see photo at left) that came after months of hard work to make an alternative to a roll of tape that is efficient, effective, and with a low enough cost to be adopted by healthcare providers.

“We were fighting against the most basic, fundamental product hospitals use . . . a roll of tape,” Allison explained.

First, there was the challenge of finding the best manufacturer, and Good and Allison found that company just outside Milwaukee after separating from a nearby manufacturer that did not meet their expectations. The Wisconsin company is not large, although it does manufacture healthcare products. What particularly impressed them was the fact that the manufacturer assigned five people to the account and all have been very attentive throughout the design process.

Following the results of a November pilot at Erlanger, one of the sponsors of the “HealthTech Accelerator,” the team went back to the drawing board to further improve the design. “I became an engineer,” Allison said with a laugh. “We had been planning to bond two types of tape. We came-up with a totally new design.”

After the next round of limited pilots, Allison and Good, who have self-funded the development and have no plans to seek outside investors, expect to execute partnerships with medical supply distributors or other strategics. They see that as the best way forward, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted demonstrating the product and its ease-of-use to practitioners at conventions and tradeshows.

However, the battle against COVID-19 has shined a bright light on the importance of cleanliness and infection control measures in the healthcare setting, and KelCor is primed to confront this fight with “KC Airway Taping System.”

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