Mechanic built device for ICU patients

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– A mechanic and the hospital equipment he built for patients in the intensive care unit. It’s making a big difference in their recovery at Hartford Hospital.

The ‘medical’ intensive care unit at Hartford Hospital wanted to get patients mobilized while in the ICU, studies showed it improved recovery over time.

But there really wasn’t anything available for patients who needed assistance, that is until Earl Morrison.

June Baker is off ventilator and all, walking as fast as her socked feet can take her through the Medical Intensive Care Unit of Hartford Hospital.

“She’s been waiting all morning to get on that, she’s been waiting for you guys to get here so she could go off on her little walk,” said Lisa Rose.

The 73-year-old relies on E-A-R-L, Earl, a modified walker and equipment carrier to get her exercise.

It stands for: “Early Ambulation Rehabilitates Lives.”

Named after one guy, Earl Morrison, the mechanic assistant who built it from a computer stand for patients like June Baker.

“I’m actually very excited I did something good everyone benefits from it,” said Morrison.

The mobile tool came about after a culture shift in this ICU. That getting patients moving, even patients on a ventilator had long term benefits.

“They don’t require as much extensive rehab after their hospitalization,” said Lu Ann Mahoney, Hartford Hospital. “They don’t have to overcome that inactivity that they had while they were hospitalized because we kept them mobilized.”

Then came the realization there was nothing compact like this just yet and who would put it together?

“Finally we talked with one of the folks in biomedical engineering and he said, you know I know this guy, he’s a fabricator, he works down with the mechanics, he like – takes cars apart,” said Mahoney.

Which brings us back to Earl the man who found the stuff he needed right in his work area, such as IV poles and oxygen tanks.

“I didn’t just to put just one, I put two that way it looks uniform at the same time, should they run out, there’s another one,” said Morrison.

Other modifications…

“At first I did the two front wheels, they were fixed they did not turn,” said Morrison. “It’s kinda like more difficult to turn for some of the patients so I decided I’ll make all four wheels swivel.”

“I thought it would be a really good tool for my mother because she’s very independent and very active,” said Rose.

June Baker not able to talk said it best in print:

“It’s important to get the word out there is a way to be active even in the ICU. Anything that helps me get better, faster is a miracle.”

When Earl put it all together the unit wanted to name it after him.

A nurse came up with what Earl the walker stands for “Early Ambulation Rehabilitates Lives”.

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