There’s a surprising lack of good, truly neonatal-specific devices in the medical industry – oftentimes medical device manufacturers realize that there is a gap in their products from not offering a neonatal version of their adult device. Usually, to fill this gap, they just shrink their adult device down. Once in a while, there is a medical device company with founders who actually care about neonatal patients, and Starboard Medical is one of those companies. 

Companies are often defined by the people who found them. Starboard wouldn’t be where we are now without its co-founder, Anthony “Tony” Beran, former cardiopulmonary physiologist and current co-owner of Starboard Medical.

Tony has a long, involved history in the medical industry, especially in the fields of neonatal respiration, intentional hypothermia and patient temperature management.  He holds dozens of patents and has helped develop indispensable medical procedures and devices that help save lives. Let’s look back and discover Tony’s journey and everything that led to the creation of Starboard Medical and our newest neonatal catheter securement device. 

From the very beginning of his career, Tony was interested in research and experimentation. He had a particular interest in the field of neonatal medical research. In one of his first published papers, “Diffusion of hydrogen to the fetal brain and neonatal brain and kidney” (Nov 1963), Tony investigated the effect of various drugs on fetal and neonatal oxygen levels. This experiment sparked a lifelong interest in neonatal research with a particular interest in helping the littlest underdeveloped preemies breathe and undergo surgery. He had a product development research lab at the University of California Irvine – (UCIMC) Hospital Campus where he conducted extensive research to develop new practices to help care for neonatal patients. He had a particular interest in helping to resolve Hyaline membrane disease (HMD), also called respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), which is a condition that causes babies to need extra oxygen and help with breathing. HMD is one of the most common problems seen in premature babies. The more premature the baby, the higher the risk and the more severe the HMD. The majority of his research was conducted on rabbits, as their body size and organ size simulated a neonate. Tony helped Dr. Bartlett’s team test and research the first use of ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a life-saving procedure that has since saved countless babies over the years. He also researched intentional hypothermia to determine the best methods to perform open-heart surgery on the smallest of patients.   

Tony wasn’t just a researcher back then – he was also an inventor. Because he worked so closely with neonatal research and patients, and had children of his own, he knew and understood the needs of neonatal patients. He saw that there wasn’t a great option for securing an endotracheal tube to a neonatal patient. The go-to method for securing endotracheal tubes at the time – for both neonatal and adult patients – was to pile on tape and hope that it stuck. But neonatal patients have different needs than adults. They are tiny, delicate, and they need special attention. 

Tony had the idea to create an endotracheal securement device out of flexible foam and a gentle adhesive. This endotracheal securement device inspired many of the catheter securement devices he later developed. Starboard has decades of knowledge about gentle adhesives, comfortable foam, and about what the patient needs. 

Tony’s neonatal interests did not stop at securement devices – he also published on how infant catheters can affect outcomes, Effect of Umbilical Artery Catheters on Blood Flow and Oxygen Supply to Extremities. This research found that the placement and diameter of catheters has a significant effect on neonatal patient blood flow and oxygen supply. Way back then, his work with breathing tubes and catheters involved developing makeshift ways to properly secure them and he knew there was an opportunity ahead. 

Decades later, after Tony and his grown children were all established in the medical device industry, Tony and his daughter Kerry came together to develop a full line of catheter securement devices. Both had experience with either personally caring for a loved one with a long-term catheter or personally having an IV placed and secured, as well as being involved in the medical device industry. So, they both understood what the industry was lacking and what they could bring to the table. 

Together they developed a full line of catheter securement devices and brought them to the market, including a speciality neonatal PICC securement device. These devices were so different and innovative, that not too long after they were developed, a large medical device company in the vascular access space acquired the product line.

Throughout the decades, our founders’ values have stayed the same. We never stop innovating or trying to think of ways to make even better products, and we always create our devices with patient care in mind.