|By Chris Maza
Members of Gentoo! demonstrate the use of the Portable Infusion Harness at PitchFest at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
LONGMEADOW Longmeadow resident Kathryn Belkin is on her way to making life better for those undergoing infusion treatments.
Belkin, a biomedical engineering major at Wentworth Institute of Technology, is part of a design and engineering startup called Gentoo!, which was awarded a $10,000 first place award for its first project during PitchFest, a contest conducted through the school's Accelerate program.
"Accelerate is an innovation and entrepreneurship challenge for Wentworth students who are looking to turn their own ideas into reality," Belkin explained. "The students are given the opportunity to make a team around their idea, and attend various workshops in order to prepare them for writing their business plans and pitching their idea at PitchFest."
Gentoo! is made up of four students with majors running the gambit from Biomedical Engineering to Electromechanical Engineering to Industrial Design to Business Management. Its goal with its first endeavor is to improve the quality of life for those receiving IV treatments for various illnesses with the Portable Infusion Harness.
For Belkin, personal experience helped in the development of the product.
"The Portable Infusion harness is geared towards patients who are undergoing various types of continuous infusion treatments including patients undergoing chemotherapy, pain management infusions and intravenous feeding," she said. "My aunt is currently undergoing a chemotherapy treatment where she receives continuous infusion treatments for two days every two weeks. The idea for the Portable Infusion Harness came about when my aunt was showing me the bag that is currently used to hold the infusion pump and medication bag.
"The current bag that is used is bulky, awkward to handle, provides very little protection for the equipment, and is not waterproof. The current design also leaves the IV tubing that runs from the pump to the patient exposed and hanging, which makes it easy for the tubing to get caught on things and pull at the patient's port. The Portable Infusion Harness provides protection for the medication bag, infusion pump and IV tubing from impact and water damage. The harness, designed similarly to the shoulder harnesses police officers wear, attaches the equipment directly to the patient rather than having it be hanging and in the way. The portable infusion harness holds the medication bag and infusion pump in protective cases on both sides of the body, and the tubing runs close to the body so that it can not get caught on anything," she continued.
Belkin said that the $10,000 award would go a long way in helping Gentoo! get the harness out on the market.
"We were extremely excited and surprised when we found out how much we were awarded. We were confident in our idea from the start, but we had never imagined that we would be awarded $10,000," she said. "We will be using this money to continue developing and finalizing our prototype and eventually bringing it to market."
While not working on any other projects at the moment, Belkin said that Gentoo! is certainly not done developing products.
"Currently we are focusing on the Portable Infusion Harness, but we hope to take on other products once the harness is up and running," she said.
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