After being hospitalized for a healthcare acquired infection, Charles Webb fought back the best way he knew how — by starting an organization called SterileAware to raise awareness of HAIs and deliver sterile packaging solutions that improve patient outcomes.

Kassandra Kania, Freelance Writer

April 4, 2023

6 Slides

Charles Webb, CEO of Van der Stähl Scientific, has dedicated the last 27 years of his life to sterile packaging. So the irony of his condition was not lost on him when an infection from a contaminated scope caused a bleeding ulcer that landed him back in the hospital.

It was from this vantage point that SterileAware first began to take shape; a project whose mission it is to improve patient outcomes via better products and systems in medical device processing and packaging.

Webb describes the project as a unique blend of philanthropic endeavors blended with his for-profit packaging machinery company and laboratories — in his words “a dot-com meets a dot-org mash-up.” The new venture takes a multifaceted approach to lowering healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) by educating the public, disseminating sterile processing information, developing new technologies, and recognizing industry peers.


Improved pouch testing.

Powered by Van der Stähl Scientific and hawo GmbH, SterileAware’s medical device packaging system improvement project will focus on developing packaging technology for hospitals, clinics, and medical device manufacturers that mitigate the spread of HAIs.

The organization’s first target is medical device pouch testing systems, with the invention of three new devices that have the potential to save lives by shortening testing cycles on medical device pouches. These include a Wi-Fi–monitored medical device pouch sealer with high-level process monitoring, a rapid medical device pouch testing system that automatically cuts and peels pouches, and a medical device tray sealer with an integrated rapid burst destructive test system.


Education plus inspiration.

SterileAware’s agenda also includes launching a campaign of awareness that focuses on the dangers of cross-contamination and sterility loss at hospitals. The organization recently launched the SterileAware podcast, which will provide updates on its campaign and interview HAI experts.

Additionally, Webb and his wife Lisa, SterileAware’s mission coordinator, plan to distribute thousands of awareness wristbands, as well as free point-of-packaging and processing infographics to hospitals and clinics during a road trip scheduled for the summer.

On the home front, SterileAware plans to support education and foster enrollment in healthcare packaging and processing. With the goal of attracting packaging engineers to medical device packaging, the division will provide educational grants for healthcare packaging studies in the coming year. SterileAware will also offer scholarships and financial support to students attending healthcare packaging and processing conferences and expos.


Recognition of a job well done.

In addition to enlisting and supporting new talent, SterileAware will recognize stellar contributions to patient safety with its Superstars in Sterile Awareness award. This annual award acknowledges the companies and individuals that shape the growth of medical device packaging and sterile awareness.

Click through the slideshow to learn more about the 2022 Superstars in Sterile Awareness award winners and innovations that contributed to HAI prevention. Winners are presented in alpha order by name.

About the Author(s)

Kassandra Kania

Freelance Writer

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. She has written extensively about healthcare packaging for a variety of publications.

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