By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Ever wonder where all of the impressive medical devices used to improve people’s quality of life are developed?
Well, a few of them come from a small company called Eden Medical in Howard Lake.
Owner and president Jeff Schoess of Buffalo started Eden Medical (formerly known as Korosensor) in 2000, as a way to help people in the areas of sleep diagnostics, wound care, and diabetic imaging.
“My personal motivation is to help people with their medical problems,” Schoess said.
The work at Eden Medical relies completely on grants from Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), a competitive program that provides incentives for high-tech innovation.
Eden Medical’s newest grants were distributed through the SBIR-affiliated National Institutes of Health (NIH).
One of them is for $148,109, and is being used to fund research on a foot infrared rolling scan transducer (FIRST).
The FIRST was designed to assess the feet of people with diabetes. About 25 percent of diabetic patients develop foot problems because of poor circulation and neuropathy (insensitivity), according to Foot.com.
“The scanner takes images of the foot, and it can interpret things from the heat emitted from various parts,” Schoess said. “It will detect if there is poor circulation in certain areas, which can impact healing capabilities.”
During the second phase of the process, Eden Medical plans to see how the device works on a wide scale.
“We will actually be manufacturing the scanner and testing patients at two different sites,” Schoess said.
There is a tremendous need for diabetic self-care products, according to Schoess.
“There are over 16 million diabetic patients in the US,” he said. “It’s the third-largest epidemic, after heart disease and cancer.”
Schoess said he’s had family members personally affected by the disease, and he hopes that his work can benefit people like them.
“A lot of the work we do is also in colostomy care,” Schoess added.
An “ostomy” is an artificial opening in the abdominal wall through which waste material passes out of the body from the bowel or urinary tract. “Colostomy” means that the opening is from the colon.
Schoess said his grandmother suffered from colostomy problems, which has been one motivating factor in his research.
Eden Medical was recently awarded a $148,540 grant for development of the third phase of a self-sealing therapy ostomy pouch.
The first part of the task was to find a way to detect when fluid was leaking out. In the second phase, Eden Medical created a vibrating mechanism that alerts the patient if leakage is occurring. By detecting leakage early, skin breakdown and sores are less common.
“Now, we’re working on prevention of leakage all together,” Schoess said.
Throughout the years, Eden Medical has helped countless patients with its innovative technology. One device helps monitor the healing process of a bone fracture, while another measures respiration for people with sleep apnea.
Before anything is tested or manufactured, there is always a great deal of upfront research, Schoess said.
“There are several hundred hours of homework involved before we ever see any money,” he said.
Schoess and his engineers and scientists develop the ideas for their devices, and when they have something firmly in place, they seek out funding through grants.
“We write a proposal, and if everything goes well, it is evaluated financially and scientifically,” Schoess said.
Eden Medical staff
Schoess currently employs a few part-time engineers, and also has two interns for the summer months.
Intern Lee Schaefer of Buffalo has one semester left at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
“It’s a good experience to see what this kind of applied research is like,” said Schaefer, who is pursuing a chemical engineering degree. “I really like the experimentation.”
Andrew Broscoff of Howard Lake is enjoying his second summer as an intern at Eden Medical. He recently completed his freshman year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, and is planning to earn degrees in physics and Japanese.
“I think it’s interesting to see the direct application of the things I am learning at school,” Broscoff said.
Schoess moved his company’s corporate headquarters to Howard Lake in 2004. He enjoys being part of the community through the Howard Lake Business Association, and is hoping to bring more economic growth to the area.
Schoess changed his company name to Eden Medical at the start of 2010.
“I chose Eden Medical because it’s simple, and ‘Eden’ emphasizes creativity, growth, and new ideas,” he said.
To learn more about Eden Medical, go to www.eden-medical.com.