BostonVoyager.com posted the following article on our CEO's powerful story.. Meet Kezia -
"Today we’d like to introduce you to Kezia Fitzgerald.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2011, my daughter, Saoirse and I were both diagnosed with cancer. In January I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and that May Saoirse was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. We both had vascular access lines placed for our chemotherapy. Saoirse’s PICC and Central lines hung outside her body, and the first thing she did was put them in her mouth. As parents, we were terrified that she would get an infection or pull it out. The nurses taped the line to her arm, but Saoirse immediately got a rash and started scratching. I knew there had to be something better.
My solution was simple – a sleeve to keep her line off her skin and covered. Once the sleeve was on, Saoirse completely forgot the line was there. When she had her central line put in, I drew from the sleeve idea and created a chest wrap. Her lines were out of sight, out of mind and she was free to play and be a kid again.
When other families, patients, nurses and even doctors started asking me to make sleeves and wraps for other patients, we knew we weren’t the only ones that needed safer, more effective line management.
My disease went into remission for 3 years, but Saoirse died from her disease in December 2011.
My husband, Mike, and I founded CareAline in 2012 as a way to get these desperately needed products into the hands of patients – both pediatric and adult – all over the world.
About 150 million patients will have these types of lines placed each year here in the US, and they all have one thing in common – they have to go to a hospital to get that line. That is why we approached hospitals to make our Sleeves and Wraps standard of care for their patients. Changing the status quo of using tape to secure lines, wasn’t going to be easy, but we knew it was the best way to help as many patients as possible. We also set up an online store so that patients could buy the products right away, while we worked to reach more hospitals.
We started selling products to hospitals in 2013. Those first products were very similar to the ones I had made for Saoirse, and we were looking forward to getting feedback from the customers – both patients and nurses – about how we could improve them to help even more people. We used that feedback to make tweaks and changes to our products, and we started to get some traction – in pediatric hospitals especially.
Our products are made here in Fall River, MA from a comfortable, washable cotton/spandex material. They are functional for treatment and scans, and keep the lines off the skin and covered which protects both the patient and the line itself. In 2014 Colorado Children’s Hospital wanted to find a way to reduce the rate of accidental dislodgment they were having in their oncology patients. They did a pilot study with our products, and their dislodgment rate went from 23% to 0% – completely eliminating the complication altogether. They now use our products hospital-wide.
We attend trade shows to share our mission with nurses, doctors and patients who have vascular access lines, but we also wanted to share our story in a more public way. We entered a couple different medical device innovation competitions – first was the 2014 Boston Children’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit Innovation Tank, where we won first place. Second was the 2015 SXSW Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Competition, where we won both first place prizes and the Mark Cuban Award. Mark Cuban purchased 1000 of our products on the spot, and donated them to Med City Children’s hospital in Dallas.
My cancer relapsed in 2014 and our family was again pulled into the world of cancer even deeper. I was able to live a pretty normal life for two years, but in 2016 it was more than my body could handle. I had to begin a new therapy, and then a newer immunotherapy. Luckily, the second medication started to work, and I was able to slowly work back up to being more normal again. I decided that it was time to really pushed CareAline to the next level.
We received a grant from the New England Pediatric Device Consortium in 2016 to help us with our commercialization plan for CareAline. I applied and pitched for a few different competitions and accelerators. CareAline was accepted into the 2017 cohort of MassChallenge – and we just found out that we are one of the 26 finalists selected from this year’s group. We have worked hard to start to build momentum in hospitals, and we are ready to push forward so that we can help patients.
Over the past 5 years, 30 hospitals all over the world have started to use our products on their patients, and we add more to that every single month. While we aren’t reaching every patient yet, we are glad that we are helping as many as we can. The emails and comments that we get from nurses and patients thanking us for what we do make it all worthwhile. My mission is to help patients – just like Saoirse and me – live SAFELY with effective line management from CareAline.
Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. We jumped into building a medical device company without having any background in medicine. Mike and I met in art college – I’m a photographer, and he is an art director. Our only experience in the medical world was with my cancer and our daughter’s cancer. So while we lived the patient and caregiver perspective, we didn’t know how medical devices got adopted, or how to change the status quo of patient care in the hospital system.
Personally, we had our second child, my cancer relapsed, and I almost died from my disease all while we were working to grow our business and help other patients.
But we know that what we are doing is important, and we will push through obstacles, and learn from our mistakes along the way so that we can help as many people as possible.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with CareAline Products – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
CareAline was created as a way to provide safe, effective line management to patients in a comfortable, clinically effective garment, without the clinical fee. Our washable sleeves and wraps help manage vascular access lines in patients, helping increase safety while decreasing complications and costs.
Because we lived the patient and parent experience of dealing with lines, we know first hand the frustrations, risks and complications that come with having an implanted line. We work closely with hospitals, nurses and doctors to learn what problems they have at an institutional level with using these lines. This allows us to help both sides with our products and gives us the edge over others trying to enter into the space.
We were the original creators of products like this, and first to market to hospitals to replace tape, and we are constantly working to improve our products and create new ones to help fit into hospital workflow and protocol – making it easier for institutions to adopt our brand. While other companies have decorative and fashionable covers to hide lines, our products are proven to increase safety while still allowing patients to wear them during treatment, and feel comfortable.
I’m most proud of the fact that, even with all the trials and frustrations we have had to face in growing the company to this point, we have never let those keep us from helping patients as much as we can.
Our mission is to give patients the freedom to live comfortably and safely with effective line management from CareAline.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I great up in Boston, and I often feel like I don’t know it as well as I should. I love that we have so much history. I love that we are right on the ocean. I love that we have all four seasons and can see the constant change that happens throughout the year. But I think I especially love the fact that there are so many opportunities for all sorts of things here. From art, to technology, to biotech, there are resources to learn about all sorts of fields and interests. And there are so many opportunities to build a company that can have an impact on helping all kinds of people.
I’m not sure what to say about what I like least. I suppose I could deal with a little less traffic."
- CareAline Sleeve: $25
- CareAline Wrap: $35
Address: 17 Conant St #61
Danvers, MA 01923
- Website: www.CareAline.com
- Phone: 617-548-7419
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/carealineproducts
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/carealineproducts
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/carealinetweet
- Other: www.youtube.com/carealineproducts