Last week, the 28th, there was a minimakerfaire sponsored by MakerNurse.org at a hospital not far from me and as I had to be in the general area anyway and have several doctor & nurse friends who use technology & computers in interesting ways in their jobs I decided to walk over to check it out to see if there was anything they’d be interested in. I think in theory I wasn’t supposed to be there as I was asked several times what unit of the hospital I worked in they didn’t actually say I couldn’t come in When they say minimakerfaire they really do mean mini as there were only about 10 tables there but all of them were interesting uses of technology & crafts within a hospital setting. One of my favourites of the crafting type was a Radiology/Oncology nurse & his young son who have built models of various radiology devices in lego so that they can be explained to chuildren what they do and how they aren’t really scary at all.There was also a group from the NY Hall of Science (where Makerfaire NY is held) who were doing paper circuit blinkies.I had a go & of course as I am no good with arts & crafts I sliced my thumb open on the copper tape. There is always one that does it was lucky I was in a hospital as there was a nurse that had a special band-aid for thumb & finger injuries. I got blood everywhere but luckily my blood seems to be of the easy to clean up type
As well as crafts there were also a table showing the use of fake body parts/wounds and to help trainee doctors and nurses learn about that body part and how to treat the wound.and another that was asking for suggestions for how to hack the bog standard hospital bed to make it better. My three suggestions, one of which wasn’t actually my suggestion but I heartily agree with it was to add velcro to the bed so that patients can be restrained if necessary without having to use wrist and ankle straps. I also suggested a raspberry pi with raspbmc, ebook reader s/w & games on it. I have spent many weeks at a time in hospitals over the years and the boredom factor gets very high even if you pay for the TV by your to be activated. There is only so much tv you can watch with the selection of channels most hospitals have and even if you read and do crosswords and sudoko you eventually end up staring at the walls and hoping the nurses hurry up with your pain meds or that the vampirecomes to extract a few pints of your blood for tests.
The best table of the whole things was the one that had a raspberry pi on it Although I never found out what they were using the raspberry pi for as the the person who knew wasn’t at the table while I was there and I had to leave before he returned. This table was one from MIT and was about giving nurses the tools to macgyverise their jobs. Apparently until the 60s there was a journal for doctors & nurses that every month printed articles on how nurses and doctors used every day items to jury rig devices & tools to treat patients or make their jobs easier. Some examples were using ketchup bottles to help pump the stomachs of babies who had swallowed poisons, or a multi-person stethoscope so that a doctor could let their students hear what the doctor was hearing in a patient during rounds. So what MIT & Makernurse have put together is a Makernurse Crash Cart that has all kinds of tools, materials and bits and bobs so that they can make anything they want/need or give a patient something to do (the cart has lego in it ) and although it won’t fit actually in the cart they also had a cheap (I was told it was $99) 3D Printer. The Cart really is a great idea and for me it was the highlight of the minimakerfair.
Although it’s not really for me I would almost give my right arm for the cart & i’m going to be watching the makernurse website to see what nurses end up using it for. All in all although I don’t think i was supposed to be there and it wasn’t really for the general hacker/maker/tinkerer the minimakerfaire was very interesting.