Inspire us with your Northern Michigan INVENTION!

Meet: Brittany Luea

Inventor. Entrepreneur. Architect. Owner of ComenityMED, LLC.

Brittany Luea, inventor of medical women’s foot supports, produced by ComenityMED LLC. Photography by Scarlett Piedmonte Photography.

Meet Brittany Luea: Inventor, entrepreneur, architect, and owner of ComenityMED, LLC

Brittany Luea is looking out for females across the country with her latest invention, silicone foot supports. Sounds glamorous, right! Well, she invented these foot pads to make your yearly woman’s visit a little bit more comfortable. Find out more about the details of her story and process in the interview below. In addition to her impressive professional endeavors, she is a wife, a mom, and a dog mom of two. She always makes time for yoga, loves to read, and is an avid volunteer in the community.

Brittany Luea’s Foot Supports, produced by ComenityMED LLC. Photography by Scarlett Piedmonte Photography.

Brittany, what is your 30 second elevator story of who you are and what you do: I’m always fascinated by the question, “What do you do?” By trade, I’m an architect, but recently shifted gears to focus on co-founding comenityMED®, an innovative medical accessories company aimed at Pursuing Patient Comfort. comenityMED® manufactures patent pending Resilient® Professional Foot Supports for exam table stirrups that provide patient comfort and are easily sterilized between patients.

What makes you passionate about your product? I’m passionate about our product because it solves a simple but broad reaching problem in healthcare. Often times, medicine is not associated with comfort. Our products offer an alternative to traditional medical design that focus more on ergonomics. I love to make things and solve problems and by teaming up with a physician, we’re able to utilize our skills in medicine and design to provide innovative medical solutions. 

How did you develop your idea? It’s kind of a funny story, but it all started with a simple dinner conversation. My friend, Autumn Bridger DO, shared an idea she had for exam table stirrup covers and we spent the evening brainstorming about materials and how it could work. I was excited that she wanted to team up with me to make it happen! Although it took a few years to bring it from concept to product, we knew that evening what we wanted it to be. We utilized 3d modeling and printing for a few of our prototypes, then eventually made a steel mold that we now use for our finished silicone products.

What is it like to run a small business out of Northern Michigan? I love it! I absolutely love living in Northern Michigan. Our products are available online and our distribution center is here in town. The best of both worlds! 

Tell us about what you are looking forward to in the future. I’m looking forward to life after the pandemic. It’s been a great time to reflect and consider what direction we want to take going forward as a business. Based on the success of our first product, we know that our idea of providing serializable medical equipment that focuses on Pursuing Patient Comfort is here to stay! 

How do you balance family and running a small business? It’s definitely a balancing act. My primary focus is always my family, but I’ve set up my work life in a way that allows me to enjoy the benefits of both. 

How have you handled the current pandemic and Michigan Stay-at-Home orders? During the pandemic, my partner, Autumn, and I raised money to help provide over 700 masks for our community.  Juliette at Posh in Traverse City helped to sew the majority of these (she deserves tons of credit here!) along with my business partner, Autumn. I gathered materials locally and along with Autumn, worked on fundraising. A team effort with great results!

Brittany Luea is a licensed Architect in the State of Michigan. She received her Master of Architecture with Distinction as well as her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The University of Michigan. Brittany loves all things creative and innovative. Find more information about her Traverse City based company,  ComenityMED, LLC on their website: www.comenitymed.com  Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @comenitymed

Frontline Hero: Dr. Jen Schaffler, Anesthesiologist & Supermom

Dr. Jen Schaffler

Anesthesiologist & Supermom in Traverse City, Michigan

Meet Frontline Hero:

Dr. Jen Schaffler, Anesthesiologist at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. 

During these strange times of COVID-19 I wanted to feature someone who is truly helping to make the world a better place, what better person than Dr. Jen Schaffler! This Frontline Hero is an Anesthesiologist at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan. She has been practicing for over ten years, helping patients by putting them to sleep for surgery, and keeping them alive throughout their procedure. It’s a lot like being a pilot, and Dr. Schaffler gets her patients to their destination safely, no matter what the conditions. Those conditions have not changed in the face of a pandemic, in face they are more important than ever! PS, she is also a SUPER-MOM and just got a new puppy! I asked Dr. Schaffler a few questions, and despite her crazy schedule, she took the time to tell us a little more…  

We are currently living through a world-wide pandemic, how has this affected you both personally and professionally? Personally, it has been a lovely reminder of the true priorities in life- our families and our good health.  We will likely never have this forced “slow down” again, so as a family we are trying to make the most of it.  Professionally, I couldn’t be prouder of the anesthesia team at Munson.  From our planning and preparation sessions to our initiation of the intubation service and ongoing surgical duties, we have spent hours gearing up to help our community by offering top-notch, up-to-date care for our patients, all while keeping ourselves and our families safe.

What is your current professional advice for navigating a post-COVID-19 society going forward? First and foremost, we will get through this. It’s easy to get lost in “fake news”, so I’d encourage people to find a reliable, evidence-based source to guide your decisions as you return to normal.  Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and stay home if you’re not feeling well.  We’ve known these things our entire lives, but focusing our attention on these simple things will limit the fear and spread of pandemonium.  

How do you see this pandemic affecting the way you practice medicine going forward? I will continue, as always, to take precautions to reduce the transmission of any communicable infectious disease to and from my patients.

Tell us about PPE… Is that N-95 face mask comfortable? Ugh!  No!  There are many shapes and sizes of N95 masks, which require a “fit test” to know which is best for you.  Of course, the one that fits me best makes my face itch like crazy.  And each breath is conscious and requires effort.  Easy to get claustrophobic when it fits as it should.  

Should patients feel comfortable heading into surgery going forward? Why? Absolutely.  Munson has been following guidelines as directed by our governor. Patients can rest assured that all of us at the hospital, from the physicians to nurses to cleaning staff, are most known to keep you safe while you’re a patient.

Why are you passionate about medicine? In a few words, it’s a calling.

What does a normal day look like for you? The only consistent part of my day is the early morning!  I’m out the door before 6 am.  Some days I’m providing anesthesia on my own, others I’m directing multiple ORs with a team of nurse anesthetists. Some days it’s OB, others pediatrics or cardiac or neuro or orthopedics or plastics.  I love the variety.

You are a mother to two beautiful kiddos and full-time doctor at a busy hospital, how do you do it all?!  I don’t do it all.  My husband Pat keeps our ship afloat.  He’s currently working from home, home-schooling a 3rd and 4th grader, house-training a puppy, and keeping everyone fed and happy.  I am so thankful for him.

It took you years to get to where you are today, can you explain the path to becoming an anesthesiologist? After high school, there are 4 years of college, taking lots of science courses. Then 4 years of medical school, followed by 4 years of anesthesia residency. I took a roundabout way through pediatrics residency first, but most anesthesiologists land their first job around age 30. 

What is your advice for aspiring young females (and males) looking to get into medicine? As I said above, it’s truly a calling.  Don’t let anyone talk you into or out of medicine. 🙂  

What are your other hobbies and passions? Ha, I used to have hobbies!  Now I’m a mom who likes to travel, ski and boat with my family.

To end our interview, can you share a funny joke or tad-bit?
I asked my son when he was 7, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  He was thinking for a minute, so I prompted him, “do you want to be a doctor?”  He looked at me with a grimace and said, “mom, only GIRLS are doctors.” 😊

 

 

PoWeR! Book Bags 

Empowering children to Play, Write, and Read today for a better tomorrow!

With all of the sad and bad news in the world, I wanted to share some happy things that are happening in Northern Michigan. I understand the importance of empowering children to love books at an early age. There are MANY great organizations doing just that in Michigan, one of which is PoWeR! Book Bags. They are a non-profit working to break the cycle of poverty through literacy, giving out books to kids across Northern Lower Michigan.

As an indie publisher, my company, KPO Creative LLC, has donated over 1,800 books in the past three years to PoWeR! Book Bags. (In case you didn’t know, I have four bright and colorful board books that were created to foster a love for books at an early age, after reading this, click on this link to check them out!) It is my joy to see my board books being put to good use in my community! It makes me so happy to know that kids are enjoying my baby books, especially in this time of homeschooling and home learning. My hope is that the fun stories and colorful illustrations are helping to foster a love of reading and playing with books! Here is a little bit more about the project:

PoWer! Book Bag’s mission is to expand the number of books that children own and to increase children’s experiences with language, literacy, and human interaction. Since they began four years ago, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization allowed children to choose 110,000 books for their very own, along with 27,722 book bags that contain playing and writing materials. The kids also get a useful purple bag to carry all their picks! The group has grown and now serves children at 21 pantries and sites of assistance and 17 schools (soon to be 21)! They offer both new and used books and the kids love picking out their own books on topics they are passionate about!

Kara Murphy Gregory, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of PoWeR! Book Bags wrote about “Magic Numbers” in her 2019 annual report: “In the research, these special numbers are correlated with a child’s future life potential. When there are 10-20 books in the home, this is “typical’’ and the child is likely just to do OK. If there are 100 books in the home, the child is more likely to graduate from high school and go on to post-graduation degrees, such as college or skill training. BUT if there are 500 books in the house, it is the equivalence of the mom having a university degree. These children are likely to graduate from college and go on for further education. These children are unlikely to live in poverty!” Well, Kara and her team of enthusiastic volunteers and donors are working hard to put books into children’s hands, and doing a great job at it!! As an author and mom, I am honored to be a small part of helping make this project happen in Northern Michigan! Kudos to Kara Murphy, you are doing a great job! Keep up the strong work and keep making kids (and parents) smile! xoxo Kristy 

The organization has expanded from its original book bag project to include a summer literacy program, school vacation giveaways, Books on the Bus program, and special summer programming. For more information visit and to learn how you can help the cause visit: www.powerbookbags.orgemail: powerbookbags@gmail.com  PoWeR! Book Bags P.O. Box 533, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

PoWeR! Book Bags at a Glace

(info provided by PoWeR! Book Bags):

PoWeR! Book Bags is a Northern Lower Michigan non-profit that works to break the cycle of poverty through literacy. Two well-documented predictors of how well children will do later in life are: 

  • How many words a child has experienced before kindergarten, and
  • How many books a child owns.

PoWeR! Book Bags provides free books and literacy materials to children and families. This increases their access to literacy through: 

  • Their books, which increase the number of words in kids’ experience. 
  • Their book bag materials, which support literacy experiences by encouraging kids to play, write, and read, increasing their interactions with language and with each other.

PoWeR! Book Bags partners with local schools, food pantries, and social service distribution points already at work in the community, which means: 

  • PoWeR! Book Bags target kids where they already are, using structures already in place.
  • Every donation goes straight into literacy materials and programming for kids in the community where it’s donated. 

60,000 books distributed in 2019 = 110,000 books in 4 years

2016: 8,000+ 

2017: 17,000+

2018: 25,000+

2019: 60,000+

These books are all selected by the kids and families, 

making them more likely to be read over and over again!

9,500 book bags distributed in 2019 = 27,722 total

12,490 kids served in 2019

21 sites of assistance

17 schools for School Vacation Book GiveAways in 2019 

 

Picture provided by PoWeR! Book Bags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do small things with great love” 
                              -Mother Teresa