This episode is part of our in-depth coverage of the Healthcare Infection Transmission Systems Consortium (HITS) 2018 conference in Nashville, TN that took place September 18-20th. Check out all our HITS 2018 episodes here, and look for more throughout the month of October.

Benjamin Franklin told us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) cost U.S. hospitals as much as $45 Billion per year. We’ve covered many of the ways you can combat HAIs and we just spoke with Michael Rochon (also at HITS 2018) about how to improve our hospital cleaning procedures. Proper hospital cleaning and disinfection certainly satisfies the Franklin axiom, but what if we step back further. How did the contaminants get on the hospital surfaces in the first place? What if we could prevent some of that? Well, that’s exactly what today’s guest is doing. Many common healthcare procedures create sprays and splashes that spread contaminants to walls, ceilings, floors, and the clinicians’ protective gear (Personal Protection Equipment or PPE). If you can prevent that spread in the first place, then cleaning becomes quicker and easier, PPEs last longer and you’ve really begun to take a stand against the spread of HAIs.

On this episode, Al Wickheim and Laura Barker from Prodaptive Medical Innovations join us to explain how the STAL Shield & Stand, an engineered safety control, can provide much more than an ounce of protection against the spread of HAIs.

Highlights from our interview:

  • Prodaptive Medical Innovations, President Al Wickheim, Operations Executive Laura Barker
  • Prodaptive Medical Innovations’ foundation is based on the concept of providing innovative and simple improvements to existing technology. We try to make good, better.
  • The STAL Shield & Stand is a dome-shaped device the size of a wallet that breaks the chain of infection transmission at the first link. This stops splashes, mists and aerosol sprays during medical procedures from getting onto healthcare workers, patients, and the environment. Cleaning out wounds, oral suction, suction catheters, incision and drainage procedures, wound irrigation, and medication installations can all benefit.
  • A common reaction to this device is: “Well, duh!” The suction catheter is 100 years old. Doctors say, “Why didn’t I think of this?”  Square and stand. All in one. Perforated diaphragm. Seals around a variety of instruments.
  • This protects the worker and their PPE (personal protective equipment, anything covering their skin). The healthcare worker takes less contaminate away from the work site and that results in less self-inoculation.
  • Feedback has been good but there has been a big resistance to change. It’s an additional procedure and executives with budget restrictions say their hands are tied. It’s hard to see the downstream results of reduced CMS fines but you can see reduced cleaning time and faster room turnaround time immediately!
  • The research with Dr. Sattar for irrigation catheters found 99.5% reduction in environmental contamination and 95% contaminate capture at the site. This enhances the effectiveness of the PPE meaning less cleaning supplies, less water needed, less harsh detergents that will extend the life of your equipment, and less laundry.
  • What do you think of the HITS conference? It’s a revolutionary wave of innovation to address a global problem and we’re loving being a part of it.
  • What does the future hold? Our immediate goal is to expand our worldwide presence. This should be a global product and we have future products coming soon.

The STAL Shield & Stand


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This episode was recorded on site at the HITS 2018 conference in Nashville, TN. Check out all our HITS 2018 episodes here, and look for more throughout the month of October.

Thank you to HITS, Christine Greene of NSF International, Kelly Reynolds of the University of Arizona and Michael Diamond of The Infection Prevention Strategy for working with us on this conference coverage. It was a great event, in a great city, attended by true heroes of Infection Prevention and Control from all over the world.

Be sure to check out the next HITS conference in August 2019 in Buffalo, NY!

About The HITS 2018 Conference

The HITS 2018 Conference was held on September 18-20th in Nashville, TN.   HITS 2018 offers a unique forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and promoting “hospital health”.  The 2018 HITS “Catalyst for Change” Conference is a working conference, bringing together research scientists, industry and healthcare professionals for an interdisciplinary and dynamic approach. We work together to understand and prevent the transmission of pathogens throughout the hospital facility through a collaborative effort that includes engaging in applied research.  The conference is accredited as a provider for continuing education units (CEUs) through National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). Join us for this one-of-a-kind, multimodal event where researchers and experts from across disciplines will work toward identifying research gaps and applying data-driven methods in the field. Meet, greet and share ideas with the individuals and organizations who are growing and sustaining the industry as we explore creative and innovative solutions to this global problem. The full 2018 schedule can be found at

The HITS organizing committee has assembled world experts and key opinion leaders to share their knowledge and expertise. We host a research poster session to hear from those in healthcare about the research being conducted in their facilities.  We also incorporate workshop breakout sessions each day in order to provide a unique forum through which everyone can interact and be innovative as we work to identify potential solutions to key barriers and develop an agenda for change moving forward into the next year.  After the conference, members have the opportunity to become involved in one of the many research workgroups conducting research around pathogen transmission in healthcare.

Check out highlights from the HITS 2017 conference:

For media inquiries:

For more information, please visit the HITS Consortium website: or email us:

Checkout our conference preview episode: HITS 2018 A Catalyst for Change in Infection Control – Episode 67 w/ Dr. Christine Greene and Dr. Kelly Reynolds.

About Al Wickheim

Al Wickheim is one of the founders, innovators, and the CEO of Prodaptive Medical. He grew up near Sooke, B.C. doing a variety of shipyard duties for his Dad. Everything from wreck salvage diving off the rugged Westcoast of Vancouver Island to pile-driving and running a modest machine shop. Al spent a fair bit of time “underground’ as a spelunker on the Island in his youth – sometimes forcing him into new and unexplored passages and territory.

Starting with the local fire department as a volunteer for a couple of years Al next worked for BC Ambulance for 30 years, the last 18 as an Advanced Life Support Paramedic. He has been involved in several major projects for BCAS including managing the EMS outfitting for the B.C. Summer Games in 1986 and overseeing the preparation of 36 ambulances for the Commonwealth Games of ’88. He was involved in the development and teaching of the recent H1N1 and Infectious Disease Control program for the employer and was a Level 11 CBRNE Tech. He worked for a Kenn Borek Air, a well established operation in Iqaluit and did numerous Med-evac tour on Baffin Island in Canada’s far north, to as far as Thule, Greenland. Al is always seeking improvements and refinements, tireless to the end.

As an ERU Tech with the Canadian Red Cross Al was in Nepal in 2015 and currently is the Community Coordinator for the JdF Emergency Program in Otter Point. Al’s background of innovation and self-sufficiency has taken him through various ventures of construction, hazardous tree topping and falling, bull-dozer and excavator operations. Al and his family live on their farm in the rainforest of southern Vancouver Island where he does wilderness and big tree tours to remote regions of the Island. At home, he works on managing the adventures established and coming up with new projects at a fairly constant rate. He enjoys astronomy and, well, work.

Al WickHeim on LinkedIn

Email at

About Laura Barker

Laura has a strong business and management background in healthcare and hospitality and a dozen years as a trauma / medical RN at Victoria General Hospital. Her drive, enthusiasm, and commitment to excellence and service make Laura a tremendous and very welcome addition to Prodaptive. Her role title is Operations Executive – she just calls it WIC – Woman in Charge.

About Prodaptive Medical Innovations

Prodaptive Medical develops and markets solutions to problems and shortcomings in clinical medical equipment. The partnership of two well seasoned emergency care providers with overlapping areas of expertise has resulted in the development of Prodaptive’s first product to market, the STAL Shield and Stand.

In 2009 Al Wickheim took an idea from concept to product addressing an obvious need to the biohazard concerns inherent in the use of the Yankauer suction device. SARS had struck a deadly blow in Toronto a few years before and H1N1 loomed.

While initially designed as a shielding device, it was apparent that the STAL served numerous other functions as well such as a stand. As an adjunct to half a dozen medical instruments used in Aerosol Generating Procedures – AGP’s, the STAL Shield’s versatility and effectiveness makes it the preferred choice when it comes to at-source medical bio-hazard blockade and confinement.

Other products are on the drawing boards and with input from practitioners, patients and manufacturing specialists Prodaptive Medical sees growth ahead where the status quo is no longer good enough. At Prodaptive ‘Making good better‘, is what we do.

The STAL Shield & Stand was recognized as one of Top Innovations of the Year: 2017

Prodaptive Medical is part of the TIPS Sudden Science program, which provides support and resources to advance their innovation into the market.

The STAL Shield & Stand

Prodaptive Medical on Facebook

Prodaptive Medical on LinkedIn

Breaking the Chain at the First Link – A critical evaluation and research paper on the STAL Shield & Stand’s effectiveness on InfectionControl.Tips.

About the Healthcare Infection Transmission Systems (HITS) Consortium

The Healthcare Infection Transmission System Consortium is a not-for-profit organization serving the field of infection control and prevention. HITS takes a holistic perspective to targeting healthcare associated infections by including multiple disciplines in the conversation, including infection prevention, environmental services, construction and renovation, facilities management and engineering along with research scientists and industry experts. HITS focuses on the major avenues for pathogen transmission in hospitals:  hands, surfaces, water and air.  HITS provides the necessary, cross-disciplinary platform to share knowledge and engage in research regarding the prevention of healthcare-associated infections and promotion of overall hospital health.

@HITSConsortium on Twitter

HITS Consortium on LinkedIn

Related and/or Mentioned on the Show

Dr. Sattar Episode on understanding the spread of infectious agents in the environment.

Check out all of the #HCBiz Show! Infection Prevention and Control coverage.

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