DUBOIS, CLEARFIELD COUNTY---A local nurse is in the running for $250,000 in funding to start her own business.
She's up against all the other community projects in Pepsi's "Refresh Everything" contest, and needs your votes to win.
Kovalyak has been a registered nurse in the Neonatal Internsive Care Unit at DuBois Regional Medical Center for nine years, and for the past three years she's been developing a positioning aid for premature and sick infants.
Infants who need to be on ventillators or have other health problems often miss out on quality time with their mothers in the first days of their lives.
"What they like to do when they're born is be with Mom on Mom's chest, but sometimes we can't offer that to them due to the fact that they're ill, or they can't come out of their bed right away," Kovalyak said, "So now you have the issue where the baby's really uncomfortable, and it doesn't feel good, and Mom can't bond right away."
Her invention is meant to make a newborn feel like they're laying on their mother's chest. That's something that soothes them, which helps them eat and sleep, and that is exactly what will make them healthy and strong.
"They're comfortable. They want to be there. They'll reposition for you, which is awesome because their so fragile, sometimes you have to move them frequently. They're okay with that because they're thinking, 'Hey, I'm with my mom. I'll do whatever you want me to do," Kovalyak said.
But this isn't just new bedding, it also contains an actual recording of the mother's heartbeat, and it even smells like their mother, something that makes the newborn comfortable, but also gives parents peace of mind.
"At night, I'm hoping Mom can get home and say 'You know what, my heatbeat's in there, that's what I can do right now,'" Kovalyak said.
Kovalyak's invention is now patented. She said she tests all of her ideas at work, but doesn't tell any of the other nurses that they're her designs, that way she gets honest feedback from them.
She said her new business will be called Neonatal Loving Kare, and she'd like to get the positioning pad into every NICU in the country.
If you'd like to help her win the funding from Pepsi, you can vote up to 10 times a day at www.refresheverything.com/neonatallovingkare.