HCESC Develops ECMO Training Simulator

This story appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Veteran’s Affairs and Military Medicine Outlook magazine. View the story on their website here.

The extracorporeal membrane oxygenation training simulator developed by the Health Care Engineering Systems Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pictured here, consists of a manikin, cannulation tubing structure, and programmable pump.

Image Credit: Anusha Muralidharan, Health Care Engineering Systems Center at Illinois

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early March, not many people knew about the existence and necessity of a procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also known as ECMO. This invasive, life-saving technique artificially drains blood out, oxygenates it, and pumps it through the body to fuel red blood cells in patients who suffer from insufficient blood oxygenation levels, similar to heart lung bypass. This is often due to acute failure of the heart and/or lungs. Many COVID-19 patients are also being given ECMO as a last-resort procedure when ventilators do not provide sufficient oxygen throughout their entire body.

Connection to ECMO is a complicated procedure requiring insertion of large bore tubes into major blood vessels which are then connected to the pump. This is usually performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon, trained intensive care specialist, or team of expert surgeons, staff, and nurses, leaving little opportunity for a novice to practice on a real patient. An incision is made in the skin and tubes, or cannulae, are placed into a large vein and/or artery in the chest, neck, or groin. The blood is then pulled from the body, passed through the artificial lung, oxygenated, and cycled back into the body using the ECMO pump. Aside from COVID-19, it is often used when patients are coding and doctors need to mechanically support their heart and lungs to prevent death. Time is of the essence and stakes are often high when performing this procedure, leaving little room for error.

Dr. Jai Raman, formerly of the University of Chicago & Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and currently of the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia, expressed this concern to T. Kesh Kesavadas, director of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Inserting cannulae into patients that are critically ill can be challenging and fraught with complications due to injury of the vessels,” said Dr. Raman. “Simulation platforms for this procedure, where trainees and physicians can practice on a manikin or through virtual reality, would help. This would make access of the vasculature and insertion of the tubes effective, safe, and seamless, ultimately improving patient outcomes and survival.” They applied for a grant to study this problem.

After this conversation, Kesavadas and his team at the HCESC, whose mission is to improve patient outcomes through collaboration between engineers and physicians, began developing a simulation platform to educate students and clinicians in administering this life-saving procedure. Their ECMO Training Simulator was completed in 2018, in partnership with OSF HealthCare through the Jump Applied Research in Community Health through Engineering and Simulation endowment. It is now being used in a research study conducted by the U.S. Air Force En route Care Research Center.

“Simulation training is necessary to improve patient outcomes,” said Kesavadas. “HCESC has been a leader in developing this technology since 2014.” HCESC is a research unit housed under The Grainger College of Engineering. Their primary area of research is in simulation technology, but they also have expertise in surgical robotics, health data analytics, and smart health. HCESC also manages the Jump ARCHES endowment, which was established in 2014 as a partnership between The Grainger College of Engineering and OSF HealthCare, a large health care system serving central Illinois. The endowment promotes collaboration between engineers and physicians from OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois system. They accept project proposals twice yearly, and one Principal Investigator needs to belong to each institution to be eligible for funding.

Dr. Matthew Bramlet, pediatric cardiologist at OSF HealthCare, and Pramod Chembrammel, research scientist at HCESC, teamed up and applied for Jump ARCHES funding to create the ECMO simulator. “My background is in pediatric cardiology and advanced cardiac imagining, and I collaborated with Pramod in building a database of 3D models of various cardiac pathologies that he uses in simulations,” said Dr. Bramlet. “As health systems tighten budgets, the number of experienced ECMO providers may decrease which will increase the need for high-fidelity simulators to maintain a higher level of expertise among those performing ECMO.”

Bramlet and Chembrammel applied for a Jump ARCHES grant in 2016 and were awarded funding to create the simulator, which consists of a torso manikin and cannulation tubing structure that can be inserted into the femoral or jugular regions of the manikin, connecting to a programmable pump to drive fluid through the tubes.

Creating the ECMO simulator would not have been possible without the team and expertise at HCESC. Simulation engineer Anusha Muralidharan began working on the project in 2018, primarily working on hardware and sensors. “ECMO requires auto-monitoring of blood flow, pressure, and temperature. It’s vital that sensors are able to monitor it correctly,” said Muralidharan. This technology helps replicate difficult scenarios in ECMO by interfacing with mathematical models of human physiology, which is what drew research scientist Dr. Inki Kim to working on this project. “Design and validation of cyber-physical systems is a great challenge. The ability of this simulator to create unlimited cases of pathophysiological scenarios helps optimize learning, realism, and complexity,” said Dr. Kim.

After completing a prototype of the simulator, HCESC presented a poster of their new technology at the Military Health System Research Symposium in 2019. They connected with a surgeon from the U.S. Air Force En route Care Research Center, who was intrigued by the technology and was interested in using it to see if it was effective in training military medical personnel. Kesavadas, Muralidharan, Kim, and the rest of the team at HCESC prepared the technology for institutional use by writing manuals, manufacturing and assembling a new simulator, and packaging materials for delivery. HCESC eagerly awaits reports on usage and outcomes of the technology to further confirm the importance that simulation technology has assumed in training medical professionals.

Simulation technology has grown even more important in a time where most learning is taking place over virtual platforms. Unfortunately, this is a time where learning is most important in the medical field due to the high probability of specialized medical personnel becoming infected with COVID-19, leaving others to perform their tasks. “When ECMO is needed, you want the procedure to happen at the patient’s bedside within minutes and be available 24/7,” said Dr. Mark Johnson, director of the Intensive Care Unit at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois. “To do this, you need an entire team of four to ten people that are trained in performing the procedure.” Johnson cited two local cases of COVID-19 that required the use of ECMO and anticipates performing the procedure more during a potential second wave of the pandemic. “Simulation training would be extremely important for this procedure at Carle.”

ECMO is gaining acceptance in the medical community to salvage and support patients in critical condition, but uniquely to pandemics and seasonal influenza. Dr. Abdul Siddiqui, pulmonologist at Christie Clinic in Champaign, Illinois, cited an “exponential rise” in the use of ECMO across intensive care units in the United States since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. “ECMO requires substantial resources and frequently carries a high risk of complications and mortality. It involves complex decision-making skills in a timely manner,” said Siddiqui.

Decision-making skills and the ability to perform under pressure are best learned before a medical professional ever sets foot in an operating room or intensive care unit. “These skills can be achieved through simulation,” said Siddiqui. “They are an essential part in providing the most effective care to patients, as simulations help to understand the intricacies of the ECMO machine and its interaction with the complex physiology of a critically ill patient.” Simulation technologies are rising to fill the gap between the classroom and operating room, to minimize hesitation and increase the confidence of everyone from novices to experienced surgeons in making split-second decisions that could save lives. Simulation can be used to teach specific skills with manikins, virtual reality, or augmented reality scenarios, allowing novices to practice techniques more thoroughly prior to practicing on a simulated or actual patient.

The next phase of the ECMO simulator’s capabilities includes a virtual reality component. This image depicts a still of the virtual reality simulation featuring a mock operating room, patient, and tools to perform ECMO.

Image Credit: Harris Nisar, Health Care Engineering Systems Center at Illinois

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center plans to expand the capabilities of the ECMO simulator in the future by adding a virtual reality component. This would enable the user to situate themselves at a patient’s bedside and fully immerse themselves into a 360-degree experience. While the current state of the ECMO simulator allows the user to grasp basic components such as insertion of cannulation tubes, a virtual reality component would allow these skills to be trained amid the high-stress environment of an intensive care unit or field hospital. “With the added virtual reality component, this technology would be revolutionary in changing the way medical personnel are trained in performing ECMO,” Kesavadas said. “We’re interested in collaborating with external businesses or institutions to bring this technology to the consumer market as soon as possible, in keeping with HCESC’s core values of collaboration, partnership, and translation.” A provisional patent has already been filed.

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center was established in 2014 and has grown as a research center where engineering meets medicine in innovative ways, playing leadership roles in simulation, health data analytics, and medical robotics activities on campus at the University of Illinois. They manage the Jump Simulation Center, a 6,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art simulation and education center housed on the University of Illinois campus, established by a $10 million gift from Jump Trading. It is equipped with manikin-based simulators and virtual reality tools to meet the needs of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the first medical school in the nation focused- from the beginning- on the intersection of engineering and medicine. The Jump Simulation Center is the culmination of several years of planning; in 2014, a $62.5 million gift established the Jump ARCHES endowment, a partnership between the existing Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare in Peoria and HCESC at the University of Illinois. Through this partnership, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is striving to expand simulation technology so that it is accessible, beneficial, and revolutionary in training everyone from novice medical professionals to the most experienced clinicians. The Health Care Engineering Systems Center welcomes all potential collaborations and partnerships. To collaborate or get in touch with HCESC, click here.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Develops Robot to Kill COVID-19

Ultraviolet light is a form of radiation that can be used for sterilization and disinfection. With schools and offices beginning to meet in-person again despite little change in the rate of COVID-19 infections, easy, low-cost sterilization strategies are necessary to curb the spread of the pandemic. To meet this lofty demand, The Grainger College of Engineering at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Health Care Engineering Systems Center has developed the UVBot: a robot that can be built out of easily accessible objects and programmed to clean spaces using UV light, which kills COVID-19.

In May 2020, HCESC director T. Kesh Kesavadas had an idea to create a low-cost robot that could be used to sterilize common areas such as classrooms, offices, and public transportation. He reached out to Helen Nguyen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and leader of the Illinois PPE team in The Grainger College of Engineering at UIUC. Nguyen, who has an extensive background in sterilization and UV light, saw the value in this idea and proposed to add a UV light to the robot. “From several studies conducted by my lab over the year, we know that commonly used UV irradiation is effective in inactivating or neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, and virus inactivation depends not only on the UV intensive but also the exposure time,” said Nguyen. “To control the exposure time precisely and to prevent humans from exposure to harmful UV light, we need something like a robot.”

While these autonomous robots do exist, they can cost as much as $50,000. “It’s a difficult position to be in,” said Kesavadas. “Many companies and schools don’t have the funds necessary to purchase a robot that can disinfect spaces, but it needs to happen if people are returning to on-site work or learning. Our robot serves as a low-cost alternative and can be made for under $1,000.”

Kesavadas and Nguyen decided to move forward on the project and put together an interdisciplinary team of engineers from HCESC, Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Lab, Mechanical Engineering, and Veterinary Biosciences: Yao Li, Harris Nisar, Fanxin Wang, Elbashir Araud, and Jump ARCHES summer intern Peter Chien. The result of their teamwork is the UVBot: made from a Roomba robot, UV lamp, and 3D-printed parts, the UVBot can be controlled by a mobile app over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and programmed to autonomously clean many different types of spaces. It even has the ability to record and create a library of rooms. Since UV light is dangerous to skin and eyes without protective equipment, this robot is ideal for safe cleaning since it can autonomously plan its path or be controlled remotely on a smartphone. Users would be exposed to neither UV light nor COVID-19.

The team had to navigate creating the robot through the challenges of a pandemic, where remote work and social distancing of utmost importance. Simulation engineer Harris Nisar lead the mechanical design and fabrication of the robot. “I had a great time planning the build. Of course, because of COVID, there were tremendous challenges in getting work done that required tools or facilities such as 3D printers and laser cutters, but we worked through those and learned a lot along the way.”

Intern Peter Chien, a rising junior in mechanical engineering at UIUC, was excited to work on a robotics project and learn new skills that align with his interest in health care technology. “The most fun part of this project for me was designing the hardware, where I was able to take everything I’ve learned in my coursework and apply it to something that will help in the real world,” said Chien. Fabricating the hardware involved designing mounts for the UV lamp and making sure that they fit securely onto the Roomba. Chien was also involved in designing the mobile app to control the robot over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with Li and Wang. “Designing the software has been a great learning experience; it was difficult to get started but this knowledge will definitely be useful in the future,” said Chien. The robot is able to successfully navigate rooms autonomously by using advanced sensors or controlled by a smartphone.

The UVBot promises 99% virus inactivation. The required exposure time and distance for inactivation was systematically tested using an RNA virus similar to COVID-19: Tulane virus. The team successfully conducted a test inside the Health Care Engineering Systems Center facilities to demonstrate the prototype’s feasibility as a solution for disinfection.

Kesavadas, Nguyen, and their team were passionate about creating a solution that could be created and implemented by anyone, so they are planning to publish the design, bill of material, software, and environment test data as an open access project on GitHub. Any organization with basic engineering capabilities will be able to download and reproduce the UVBot system. A provisional patent has been filed. Contact HCESC to obtain the technology here: https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/867704172.

The inventors acknowledge the support of the Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) endowment, a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and the Health Care Engineering Systems Center in The Grainger College of Engineering.

While the UVBot has proven successful, the team is still eager to improve the design with better collision detection, autonomous detection to shut off UV light when a human is detected, and software to support multiple UVBots functioning in the same network.

“It is our hope that schools and organizations feel confident enough in our work to create and utilize the UVBot for themselves,” said Kesavadas. “Reopening our country’s schools and offices safely is a huge task, and we are proud to be a small part of it.”

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign provides clinical immersion and fosters collaboration between engineers and physicians. HCESC designs collaborative solutions to improve health care outcomes utilizing interdisciplinary expertise in simulation technologies, smart health systems, data analytics, human factors, and medical robotics. HCESC manages the Jump Applied Research Center for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) endowment, a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. This partnership provides direct access and competitive grants for engineers and clinicians of every discipline to work together solving problems in healthcare. Learn more about the Health Care Engineering Systems Center and Jump ARCHES here: https://healtheng.illinois.edu/.

HCESC Assists in Developing AQovent

Leading aerospace precision engineering and manufacturing company Aequs, based in India, has collaborated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop AQovent, a medical-grade, low-cost, and mass-produced mechanical resuscitator to provide constant flow, pressure-cycled ventilation automatically to patients in respiratory distress. Aequs is manufacturing these respirators in India based on a license procured from the concept design for the Illinois RapidVent, which was released by the University of Illinois in March 2020.

“At Aequs, we stand in solidarity with the government and medical fraternity in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Aequs CEO and chairman Aravind Melligeri. “AQovent, one of Aequs’s most timely innovations, is a low-cost and indigenously developed resuscitator, operates without a power source, and is hassle-free. The design of AQovent lends itself well to a high level of scalability, enabling us to ramp up production to meet the surge in demand.”

AQovent is engineered to suit Indian conditions without compromising its functional integrity and to enable ease of manufacturing and reduce lead time, thereby making it conducive for mass production.

“We at the Health Care Engineering Systems Center at The Grainger College of Engineering feel privileged to have been catalysts for this wonderful partnership between Aequs and the University of Illinois resulting in AQovent,” said T. Kesh Kesavadas, director of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center and professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering at Illinois. “We look forward to witnessing the positive effects it is sure to have on many lives.”

AQovent operates directly on oxygen, making it ideal for deployment in on-electrified locations and ambulances due to its portability, or in situations with limited medical facilities. These single-use resuscitators are compact and easily deployable for treating patients affected by COVID-19 and other respiratory conditions.

“The launch of the AQovent and its potential for impact is inspiring. We are delighted that Aequs can leverage the Illinois RapidVent to aid in the fight against COVID-19,” said William King, leader of the Illinois RapidVent project and professor in the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering.

“We are thrilled that a design created by a team of engineers at the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering will be used to help those around the world,” added Rashid Bashir, dean of The Grainger College of Engineering. “This is exactly what our engineers had in mind during our process and we are looking forward to seeing the impact it will have in India. Thank you to Aequs.”

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center was established in 2014 and has grown as a research center where engineering meets medicine in innovative ways, playing leadership roles in simulation, health data analytics, and medical robotics activities on campus at the University of Illinois. They manage the Jump Simulation Center, a 6,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art simulation and education center housed on the University of Illinois campus, established by a $10 million gift from Jump Trading. It is equipped with manikin-based simulators and virtual reality tools to meet the needs of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the first medical school in the nation focused- from the beginning- on the intersection of engineering and medicine. The Jump Simulation Center is the culmination of several years of planning; in 2014, a $62.5 million gift established the Jump ARCHES endowment, a partnership between the existing Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare in Peoria and HCESC at the University of Illinois. Through this partnership, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is striving to expand health care engineering technology so that it is accessible, beneficial, and revolutionary in training everyone from novice medical professionals to the most experienced clinicians.

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center partners with several health care organizations internationally, including in India, and welcomes all potential collaborations and partnerships. To learn more about HCESC, their simulation technology, and collaboration, please visit https://healtheng.illinois.edu/.

University of Illinois Faculty — Supported by Jump Partnership –Develops Simple N95 Respirator Mask Decontamination Technology with Microwave Oven Plasmas

From https://grainger.illinois.edu/news/36984.

In the early days of the pandemic, hospitals faced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially N95 respirator masks. As COVID-19 cases rebound across the nation and we face another potential shortage, the question of how to decontaminate N95 respirator masks remains. Fortunately, a team led by nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering professor David Ruzic has proven results of a solution that could be used to decontaminate respirator masks using a microwave oven, funded by a $30,000 grant from the Jump ARCHES endowment. Jump Applied Research in Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) is a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and the Health Care Engineering Systems Center in The Grainger College of Engineering.

Professor Ruzic’s strategy consists of creating a plasma inside the microwave oven using common household supplies including ceramic coffee cups, wire, hydrogen peroxide, and saline solution. The combination of these materials allows for creation of an intense plasma, which can decontaminate the mask within approximately 30 seconds. View this video on Professor Ruzic’s “Illinois EnergyProf” YouTube channel to learn about the process.

“This technology would enable hospitals, nursing homes, and first responders to use a microwave oven to decontaminate masks with materials they already have on hand,” Ruzic said. “We have shown that 30 seconds of plasma exposure is sufficient to kill viruses and have submitted our findings to the CDC’s Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases. We have also sent treated masks to the CDC for testing and passed their filtration and fit standards, even after three cycles of decontamination.” A preprint of the work is available in MedRXiv.

Professor Ruzic’s team includes Illinois civil and environmental engineering Professor Helen Nguyen and Jump Simulation and Education Center engineer Brent Cross. Professor Nguyen’s research group specializes in environmental engineering with an emphasis on pathogen transmission and control. They have the facilities to test and expertise to determine the extent exposure to the plasma can inactivate the viruses on N95 respirator masks. University of Illinois civil and environmental engineering Professor Vishal Verma’s group also assisted with measurement to ensure the treatment did not compromise the integrity and filtration efficiency of the respirator masks.

“Professors Helen Nguyen, Vishal Verma, and their students have been fantastic co-workers,” Ruzic said. “Without them, we would have had no idea if this technology was useful. I’d like to note also that some of the initial ideas came from Starfire Industries, and its help is also very much appreciated. I look forward to working with OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana and greatly appreciate the funding from Jump ARCHES. We recently demonstrated this technique to OSF, and their leaders were extremely impressed, and were   excited they could easily replicate the process themselves.”

Ruzic and his team hope that this technology will prove useful  as conservation efforts continue for N95 respirator masks. Knowing there is a potential solution could provide peace of mind for medical providers.

“In case of real shortages, we would consider this technique a key tool in keeping our staff and patients safe,” John Kreckman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana said.

In March 2020, the Jump ARCHES program  sent out an emergency request for proposals addressing the pandemic, and Ruzic’s proposal was one of 17 accepted for funding. View the other 16 research projects here. This partnership provides direct access and competitive grants to engineers and physicians from OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois system working together to combat problems in health care.

Next steps for Professor Ruzic and his team include introducing the technology to the OSF Peoria Campus and waiting acceptance to the CDC’s Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases. This strategy should not be applied for use by individuals seeking to decontaminate cloth masks or N95 masks at home. This information is designed for use by health care and supporting agencies.   

OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs more than 23,600 Mission Partners in 147 locations, including 14 hospitals – 10 acute care, four critical access – with 2,097 licensed beds, and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois and Michigan. The OSF HealthCare physician network employs more than 1,500 primary care, specialists and advanced practice providers, who are part of the OSF Medical Group. OSF HealthCare, through OSF Home Care Services, operates an extensive network of home health and hospice services. It also owns Pointcore Inc., comprised of health care-related businesses; OSF HealthCare Foundation , the philanthropic arm for the organization; and OSF Ventures , which provides investment capital for promising health care innovation startups.

University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering: As one of the world’s top ranked engineering programs, their students, faculty, and alumni set the standard for excellence. The College is focused on driving the economy, reimagining engineering education, and bringing revolutionary ideas to the world. They work to solve the world’s greatest challenges and look toward the future to find ways to make it a reality. Learn more about the College of Engineering at https://grainger.illinois.edu/.

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCESC) of the University of Iillinois Grainger College of Engineering provides clinical immersion and fosters collaboration between engineers and physicians. The goal is to use our expertise in the broad areas of simulation technologies, smart health systems, data analytics, human factors, and medical robotics to design and develop collaborative solutions that improve health care outcomes. HCESC partners with Jump Simulation of OSF HealthCare at Peoria, Illinois, in this innovative relationship of Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES). Learn more about HCESC at https://healtheng.illinois.edu/

Jump Simulation, a part of OSF Innovation, is a collaboration between University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and OSF HealthCare. The Jump center replicates a variety of patient care settings to ensure novice and seasoned clinicians can practice handling medical situations in a life-like environment. Boasting six floors and 168,000 square feet, the center is one of the largest of its kind and provides space for conferences, anatomic training, virtual reality and innovation. For more information, visit www.jumpsimulation.org.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) educates 244 medical students and nearly 300 physician residents annually. The College of Medicine is home to the Cancer Research Center, the Center for Outcomes Research, and a collaborator in Jump Simulation. Learn more about UICOMP at http://peoria.medicine.uic.edu

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Jump ARCHES Endowment-funded N95 Mask Design & Proposal Update

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCESC), part of The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is pleased to report on the significant progress of a proposal to develop personal protective equipment (PPE), namely N95 respirators, for local healthcare systems to help protect their staff against COVID-19. The proposal was funded by the Jump ARCHES endowment, a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and HCESC at the University of Illinois.

The team, led by principal investigator Jeremy Guest, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois, has developed prototypes in collaboration with ShapeMaster, Inc. in Ogden, IL. The first quantitative fit test was performed at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL, where the team found that their N95 respirator mask prototype outperformed disposable N95 masks for fit and seal. The second round of fit testing is currently taking place at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana. After the current round of testing is finished, next steps include minor modifications to the design, additional prototype fabrication, and further testing including NIOSH filtration testing at a certified laboratory. Once final prototyping, fabrication, and testing are completed, the team will post the open-source designs online for anyone to manufacture.

“The goal of this project is to leverage the collective resources and expertise of the University of Illinois, OSF HealthCare, Carle Foundation Hospital, ShapeMaster, and other local groups to respond to the urgent and sustained need for N95 respirators,” said principal investigator Jeremy Guest. “The team is working to develop a clear, NIOSH-compliant N95 respirator that, with filter cartridge replacement, can be sanitized and reused for weeks or months.” The PPE shortage has forced many healthcare providers to reuse disposable masks that are intended for only one use. This project will both help alleviate that problem and make it easier on those who are deaf or hard of hearing to read the lips of people wearing the clear masks.

This proposal was submitted in response to the Jump ARCHES Priority Call that was announced in March to attract projects addressing COVID-19 and other pandemics. Guest’s co-primary investigators from OSF HealthCare in Peoria are Jared C. Rogers, MD, CPE, FAAFP, and John F. Kreckman, MD, MBA, CPE, FAAFP. In addition to affiliates from OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois, the team has been working with Carle Foundation Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, ShapeMaster, Inc., and TEKMILL to develop the respirator. Jump Applied Research Center for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (Jump ARCHES) is a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and HCESC at the University of Illinois. This partnership provides direct access and competitive grants for engineers and clinicians of every discipline to work together solving problems in healthcare. Over the last four years, this endowment has funded 38 proposals totaling over $2 million to researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, and OSF HealthCare systems. Learn more about Jump ARCHES here.

Jump ARCHES Summer Internship Goes Virtual for 2020

The highlight of our summer is hosting the Jump ARCHES Summer Internship, a two-month program that provides undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Illinois with the opportunity to work with Jump ARCHES grant recipients on their projects. While we’re eagerly awaiting our return to campus in the fall, many aspects of the university continue to function online, including the Jump ARCHES Summer Internship.

At the beginning of the pandemic when we were unsure whether the internship could take place in-person, the concept of pivoting to online learning was still daunting. As companies across the globe began to cancel or shorten internship programs both for practical and financial reasons, we knew we could make a virtual internship work at HCESC.

“Being able to provide internships to students is so important, and I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that has continued to offer this experience during this uncertain time,” said Lydia Lee, Simulation Engineer at HCESC. “Although transitioning the internship to be completely virtual wasn’t easy, I’m glad that we were able to onboard all the interns successfully with projects that they are excited about!”

Out of our 11 interns, seven of them are studying Computer Engineering or Computer Science, three are studying Electrical Engineering, one is studying Mechanical Engineering, and one is studying for their MS in Library and Information Science. Many of the projects they are working on are centered around using virtual reality technology. Junior in Computer Science Jacqueline Chen said, “There are a lot of really cool projects happening that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to see or work on. I’ve definitely increased my understanding of the kinds of skills and tasks research involves and have grown as a result of this process.”

This internship is unique in that it provides engineering students with the opportunity to apply what they learn in class to healthcare, a core value of HCESC and Jump ARCHES. Junior in Mechanical Engineering Peter Chien said, “I love that I’m able to leverage my strengths in mechanical design and product development to spearhead the hardware aspects of my project. I also have the opportunity to work extensively with electronics and programming, allowing me to grasp crucial skills and concepts I wouldn’t otherwise find in my standard university curriculum. I truly believe [the project I am working on] has the potential to be scaled up and implemented in the real world for disinfecting facilities, which is a use-case more relevant now than ever before due to COVID-19.”

Another exciting aspect of the virtual internship is that it allows students to partake in research from all across the globe, when normally they would either need to stay at their on-campus apartment or find a summer sublease. From Champaign, to Abu Dhabi, to South Korea, our 11 interns are becoming pros at navigating research from afar! The interns meet as a group every Friday over Zoom to discuss the progress they have made each week on their projects.

We look forward to spotlighting our interns and the projects they are working on throughout the summer! Stay tuned here on our website and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Spring 2020 Jump ARCHES Grants Focus on Rapid Solutions for COVID-19 Response

Seventeen research projects are sharing nearly $800,000 in funding through the Jump ARCHES research and development program. The Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (Jump ARCHES) program is a partnership between OSF HealthCare and The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois (U of I) at Urbana-Champaign.

These projects were submitted to an unprecedented special call for Jump ARCHES proposals to address COVID-19, pandemics, and other public health crises through smart health, data analytics, AI, and other technologies. The ARCHES program supports research involving clinicians, engineers, and social scientists from OSF HealthCare, University of Illinois, and U of I College of Medicine in Peoria (UICOMP) to develop technologies and devices that could revolutionize medical training and health care delivery.

A requirement of the grant applications was for solutions that could be deployed quickly, within four to six weeks.

“In this crisis mode where we are all working to leverage Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center and our talents to improve service for patients affected by COVID-19, the synergistic effect of engineering and clinical service breaks down traditional barriers and gets us more quickly to much-needed solutions,” said
Dr. John Vozenilek, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Jump Simulation Center in Peoria.

“When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, we felt that it was our responsibility to help researchers find solutions,” said T. Kesh Kesavadas, of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center at U of I at Urbana-Champaign and Engineer-in-Chief of Jump ARCHES.

View a brief summary of each project here.

A Message from the Director – T. Kesh Kesavadas

The health care and engineering fields are home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most groundbreaking technologies. When combined, I believe that we can rise to the challenge of conquering the most difficult and frightening of tasks. Today, we have COVID-19 consuming every facet of our lives, testing our health care systems and our abilities to work together.

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center at Illinois (HCESC) is proud to contribute in the fight against COVID-19. Most prominently, we have formed a COVID-19 Task Force to assist both the local and the university community in planning for and predicting the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Illinois. The Task Force consists of leading computer scientists and health care professionals from The Grainger College of Engineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and OSF HealthCare have been extremely helpful in collecting and distributing data to the Task Force on a daily basis.

The Task Force has launched a COVID-19 webpage on the Health Care Engineering Systems Center site to share the latest information and resources.  The webpage also provides direct connections to various centers and faculty in the campus community with expertise in community health and data analytics. The page is updated daily with local data and regularly with blog features regarding developments in the campus community towards COVID-19.

HCESC has been working with Carle Foundation Hospital and OSF HealthCare’s COVID-19 preparedness groups to assist them through tele-medicine. Our tele-medicine group has been working to identify and deploy sensors that will monitor patients at home with the goal of reducing the influx of patients to emergency departments. This will have a tremendous impact on our community’s ability to combat COVID-19 and allow hospital capacity for anyone in need of treatment. Additional areas being explored are computation modeling different patient physiological conditions to test ventilators as a cyber-physical system.

Jump Simulation Center at the University of Illinois, an important part of HCESC, is actively engaged in several COVID-19 research projects, most notably the Illinois RapidVent. We have been testing the Illinois RapidVent on patient simulators as well as creating a virtual reality training module on using the device. I would like to extend praise to HCESC and Jump Simulation Center team members Harris Nisar and Shandra Jamison for their hard work on this project. Anusha Muralidharan is also working hard on the PPE stream to test fitness and performance of the filtration systems in the simulation center.

In early March, we announced a Jump ARCHES priority call for proposals in need of immediate funding for COVID-19 and pandemic-related research projects. Over the last two weeks we have helped over twenty investigators to form research teams while also setting immediate research goals for the COVID-19 priority call. We are impressed at the wide range of research that investigators have proposed in this priority call from design of new techniques for rapid testing of viruses to using AI for modeling. We are expecting to make several high-impact awards in the coming days. One award we are excited to contribute towards is to address the needs of N95 masks for front line healthcare providers in our local community. Jump ARCHES has funded this proposal by primary investigator Jeremy Guest of UIUC and co-primary investigators Jared C. Rogers and John F. Kreckman of OSF HealthCare, and Brent Cross of Jump Education and Simulation Center. You can read more about this project here.

I am also pleased to note that we plan to continue the popular Jump ARCHES summer internship this year as a virtual internship program. We plan on providing students with kits that they can use at home to work on health care projects.

Finally, we are happy to report that the COVID-19 Virtual Summit, which was held on April 6, 2020, was very productive and informational. This summit brought together healthcare providers, industry professionals, and experts in data to discuss research, ideas, outcomes, and challenges regarding COVID-19. The summit was open to the public and over 125 people participated. If you would like more information or to view a recording of the summit, please visit this page.

We are working with the campus to provide a safe community for students this fall. I am confident that the health care engineering field will make significant contributions in combatting COVID-19 and future pandemic illnesses that our world may face. While times may be difficult now and in the near future, I trust that we will emerge from this situation with groundbreaking technologies and a profound sense of community that will assist us in facing any challenges the future may bring.

Thank you for reading. Stay safe, stay healthy, and do your part.

Sincerely,

T. Kesh Kesavadas

Director, Health Care Engineering Systems Center

Jump ARCHES Endowment Funds University of Illinois N95 Mask Design & Fabrication Proposal

Jump ARCHES is pleased to announce the funding of proposal for the fabrication of personal protective equipment (PPE), namely N95 respirators, for local healthcare systems to help protect their staff against COVID-19. Jump ARCHES is a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and HCESC at the University of Illinois.

This proposal was submitted in response to the Jump ARCHES Priority Call that was announced in March to attract projects addressing COVID-19 and other pandemics. The primary investigator of this project from the University of Illinois is Jeremy Guest, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in The Grainger College of Engineering. The co-primary investigators from OSF HealthCare in Peoria are Jared C. Rogers, MD, CPE, FAAFP, Regional President OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center and John F. Kreckman, MD, MBA, CPE, FAAFP, Chief Medical Officer, Vice President of Medical Affairs OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center, Urbana IL, and Brent Cross, Simulation Engineer at Jump Education and Simulation Center, Peoria IL.

Jump Applied Research Center for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (Jump ARCHES) is a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and HCESC at the University of Illinois. This partnership provides direct access and competitive grants for engineers and clinicians of every discipline to work together solving problems in healthcare. Over the last four years, this endowment has funded 38 proposals totaling over $2 million to researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, and OSF HealthCare systems. Learn more here.

HCESC Staff Help Develop Illinois RapidVent

Engineers across The Grainger College of Engineering, including team members of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center, have developed the Illinois RapidVent, a working prototype of an emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients.

Due to COVID-19, the United States is experiencing a severe shortage of ventilators for the rising number of patients in need; patients hit hardest by the disease often require ventilators. The pandemic is expected to peak within the month, prompting hospitals statewide to take precautions and companies that manufacture consumer goods to begin manufacturing ventilators instead.

The Grainger College of Engineering, home to thousands of innovators and brilliant minds throughout University history, has made history again with the development of the Illinois RapidVent in just under two weeks. The project began on March 16, 2020, with a team of more than 40 engineers, doctors, medical professionals, designers, and manufacturing experts.

“This is Apollo 13… We have a team of brilliant and dedicated people that made something that actually works in less than one week. It’s very inspiring. We hope that we can engage even more people to work on the global response to COVID-19 as we continue to develop the prototype.”

William King, Professor in The Grainger College of Engineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine

The Health Care Engineering Systems Center is proud to boast its place as home to four of the RapidVent team members:

  • T. Kesh Kesavadas, Director of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center
  • Anusha Muralidharan, Simulation Engineer
  • Harris Nisar, Simulation Engineer
  • Shandra Jamison, Simulation Center Manager at Jump Simulation Center

The Illinois RapidVent has made its design free and accessible to any manufacturer wishing to produce the product. For more information about the Illinois RapidVent, please visit: https://rapidvent.grainger.illinois.edu/index.asp.