Jill Byrne, RN, MSN, knows a thing or two about persistence. Since 2010, she has been working diligently – and doggedly – to bring her invention to life.
The Surgical Cooling Vest was developed by Cleveland Clinic Innovations in 2014 after Byrne had already spent years tackling the challenge of surgeons overheating in the operating room. She began this endeavor by finishing her day as a nurse at Hillcrest Hospital and going home to sew prototypes of her vest. All on her own time and dime. Fitting underneath a caregiver’s protective clothing, each vest has six strategically placed pockets for cooling packs to maximize comfort. After a “pilot” of sharing her vest with a surgeon she worked with regularly, Byrne knew she had something special on her hands.
Since disclosing the idea to CCI in 2014, she has been working with Innovation Manager Ryan Nowicki to bring the cooling vest to market. “Other, similar products were available,” said Nowicki. “But Byrne’s vest had advantages in that it was less cumbersome and did not have to be tethered to a pump. Byrne also researched the ideal weight of the cooling packs, and anatomical locations on the body that cool the fastest.” In 2017, a commercialization partner came into the picture. With their help, a validation study was conducted at Cleveland Clinic garnering feedback from more than 40 physicians.
In September 2018, a license agreement was finalized with a large medical device manufacturer to bring the Surgical Cooling Vest to life. As part of this deal, they are now manufacturing the vest to the exact specifications that Byrne has been honing for years. In a show of commitment to the product, the device manufacturer brought their entire sales staff to CCI’s office in December to train them on the product.
Byrne’s story is one of perseverance. Her desire to create a better surgical environment kept her going through the long process of commercializing a product. In that time, she has completed her masters in nursing, and completed three years of a PhD program at Case Western Reserve University, with a focus on heat stress. She was also awarded the Outstanding Innovator in Delivery Solutions award at the Annual Innovator Awards Reception, held by Innovations, in 2017.
Byrne’s hard work and dedication to those she serves prove that hard work truly does pay off.