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Nursing senior Anthony Scarpone-Lambert was awarded the 2021 President's Innovation Prize for his startup Lumify Care.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

At 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in fall 2019, then-Nursing junior Anthony Scarpone-Lambert entered his patient's room, ready to change their IV fluids. He was forced to choose between turning on the bright, white fluorescent lights and risking waking his patient, or struggling in the dark to change the IV bag. 

Tired of choosing between the two options, Scarpone-Lambert worked with Valley Children's Healthcare Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse Jennifferre Mancillas to invent the uNight Light, a wearable LED light nurses can attach to their scrubs to illuminate their workspace without disturbing a patient's sleep. Scarpone-Lambert was awarded the 2021 President's Innovation Prize for his startup Lumify Care, which sells the uNight Light as the flagship product.

Scarpone-Lambert is the first Nursing student to win the $100,000 President's Innovation Prize in the award's history. Lumify Care plans to use the prize money for marketing and product development to bring their uNight Light to more frontline health care workers and expand their educational efforts, which focus on emphasizing patient needs.

Since Lumify Care's official launch on Jan. 22, over 4,000 nurses from over 100 hospitals in all 50 states are active customers of Lumify Care, Scarpone-Lambert said.

“The power that nurses bring into this innovation space is that we really understand problems we are solving first hand, because we are the ones at the bedside with the patient,” Scarpone-Lambert said.

The uNight Light is intended to serve as an alternative to turning on bright overhead lights or using phone flashlights, pen lights, and other wearable lights that are not made for clinical settings, and could pose a risk of infection.  

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

The uNight Light serves as an alternative to turning on bright overhead lights or using phone flashlights, pen lights, and other wearable lights not designed for clinical settings.

Lumify Care's products are designed specifically for a clinical setting, and can be cleaned using any hospital grade disinfectant. Each uNight Light has three levels of brightness to help nurses complete different tasks, and contains a battery that lasts approximately six months, Mancillas said. 

Through pilot programs involving more than 400 nurses from 12 health care systems, Scarpone-Lambert and Mancillas found that the uNight Light decreases patient sleep disturbances by 70% and allows health care workers to see more easily, according to Mancillas. 

Scarpone-Lambert and Mancillas, who works in Madera, Calif., met at the 2019 Johnson & Johnson Nurse Hackathon. The idea for the invention stemmed from their experiences working on the front lines of health care in rooms with poor lighting and loud machines that could impede patients' sleep. Scarpone-Lambert and Mancillas found that 87% of nurses struggled to see while providing care to patients sleeping with the lights off, based on interviews with over 250 nurses.

Scarpone-Lambert is mentored by Therese Richmond, the Andrea B. Laporte professor of Nursing and associate dean for research and innovation. He also credited Practice Professor and Associate Director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship Program Jeffrey Babin for helping him bring his idea to a scalable business through Penn Wharton’s Entrepreneurship VIP-Xcelerate, a three-month accelerator program.

“Anthony’s energy and passion to help others is palpable when you first meet him, even through Zoom,” Babin wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “As I got to know him and his objectives for Lumify, he [reinforced] his commitment with a methodical, data-driven approach to improving the lives of patients and frontline workers with Lumify Care products and services.”

As hospitals implemented restrictions governing who could enter their facilities at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mancillas and Scarpone-Lambert had to rely on their hospital systems and connections to find people to pilot their product.

Scarpone-Lambert said the pandemic accelerated his desire to make a difference, because he realized how much frontline health care workers needed to be supported. 

He added that his identity as a first-generation student has helped push him as an entrepreneur and motivate him in pursuit of change.

“Penn students often don’t take enough risks in a way," Scarpone-Lambert said. "For me I tried to maximize my Penn experience in that I wanted to make an impact and utilize resources on campus, and I credit that to really sparking my resourcefulness and the want to make a product.”