Sometimes, a thought can change the world, and that is what Gregory Bortnick is doing. When he realized that masks doctors and nurses are wearing can put pressure on their ears and cause pain, he decided to create a device that would alleviate this problem. That is why he created Ear Ease, a little invention to relieve ear pain from mask wearing.
“My family has always had a passion for volunteering, and I knew I could design something that would make masks more comfortable,” Bortnick says. “I looked online for some sort of hair clip and found inspiration to make my own design. I downloaded the design file and printed it with my 3D printer. I distributed them to nurses and got their feedback, then ramped it up a notch so my design is lighter and stronger.”
His 3D printer prints plastic, which is actually the printer’s ink. In the photos, you can see a spool on top of the printer, which holds the plastic and dispenses it to the printer. So there is no cutting but more printing.
A junior at Kansas University, he is studying mechanical engineering, and this design is an extension of his skills. When forced to come home early and take classes online due to the coronavirus, he put that extra time on his hands to good use.
His parents have always encouraged him and his brother to give back to their community from an early age. They have worked a lot with Harvesters, and he has done different sports drives for Operation Breakthrough.
“We have distributed the Ear Ease pieces to KU Medical Center, Truman Medical Center, Advent Health and others in the Kansas City area,” he says. “I had some connections in New York, and now we are sending 250 pieces a week to them. My friend’s sister is a doctor in Michigan, and we are getting them there, too. We mail them, and my mom and I fill the orders.”
Dr. Julie Brown Longly, pediatrician and Leawood resident, commented about how the Ear Ease device is helping. “Our emergency room physicians and nurses who are wearing their masks for 10 to 12 hours at a time have been so thankful for this device as it has alleviated the pressure and sores that were developing behind their ears,” she says. “As a clinic physician I find that it also helps my mask fit snugly and appropriately against my face and also alleviated the ear pain—it’s a game changer!”
In his free time when not quarantining, Bortnick enjoys designing things and likes to use his engineering design and creativity to do something to help people. He graduated from Pembroke Hill High School where he played lacrosse and will graduate from KU in the spring of 2021.
“Hopefully, we will be able to go back to actual class next fall,” he says. “I do plan to continue creating my design and, in the future, will offer them to different businesses like restaurants and put their logo on them so they look professional.”
This desire to improve the world around him is an excellent quality. We can all be inspired by his fortitude. In everyday life, there are always ways to make things better, and Bortnick proved that one man can, in fact, make an incredible impact on the world.
To order, visit their Facebook page, Ear Ease, and send a message. Let’s spread the word about this ambitious young man.