Two St. Louis entrepreneurs are teaming up to launch a new business to assist hospitals in fighting the spread of infections.
Thom Wellington, founder of Wellington Environmental, and Tom Sears, founder of Research Based Solutions, began working on the concept of Infection Control University — a new company aimed at reducing hospital-acquired infections (HAI) through employee training — in April and officially launched the company this month.
“The whole premise behind this is to make our hospitals safer, and because of the crisis with Ebola, we’ve hit things at the right time,” Wellington said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of the infection outbreaks in hospitals are associated with construction and maintenance activities, and HAI cases cost hospitals more than $30.5 billion annually.
ICU is provided to hospitals at no fee for internal usage, then contractors pay a $99 monthly fee for unlimited access. Sears estimated revenue at ICU could reach $700,000 by this time next year and would hit $20 million by year three. Currently, ICU has four other employees in addition to Sears and Wellington. Sears estimated the company would add 20 customer service representatives over the next two years. Both Wellington Environmental and Research Based Solutions have an ownership stake in ICU, and Tom Sears and his wife also hold a stake in the company. The two execs said they invested a “significant” amount to launch the company but said it was under $1 million.
Wellington said the rising concern about the spread of Ebola also has increased business at Wellington Environmental. The company provides infection control services as well as other environmental services such as mold remediation and fireproofing. Infection control services account for about 15 percent of Wellington Environmental’s $4 million in revenue. Demand within the infection control division has been up about 20 percent with the rising concern about Ebola, “mostly for our infection-stopping type of products,” Wellington said, such as UV lights and hydrogen peroxide-based solutions.
Other local companies also have seen an increase in demand for infection-control related products. Brian Sander, president of Earth City-based ICP Medical, said the company, which manufactures products such as isolation gowns, gloves and cubicle curtains for hospitals, has seen a spike in demand as diagnoses of the Ebola virus have been confirmed in the United States. Sanders said ICP should top $17 million in revenue this year, up 26 percent from last year.