If you’ve visited a healthcare provider in the last 15 years, chances are you’ve seen a model from Anatomy Warehouse, a growing e-commerce company from Evanston in the field of health education.
Founded in 2005 by Adam Cordell and based at 1630 Darrow Ave., the company sells detailed, accurate, and realistic models of human and animal body parts and processes to colleges and universities, health-related professional schools, government entities, clinics, health care facilities, and private companies worldwide entire.
Closer to home, Evanston Township High School’s biology and health science programs have benefited from Anatomy Warehouse’s donations of gently worn anatomy models.
Cordell, a native of Evanston and a proud graduate of ETHS, has 12 employees, most of whom live in Evanston. Cordell said he was especially proud of how they were all able to transition to working from home during the pandemic; no one lost their job or took a pay cut. Everyone remained healthy and continued to work.
Despite the medical nature of their work, “no one in the office is a doctor,” Cordell said. “But in the last 14 years, Liz probably went to medical school.”
“Liz” is Liz Huff, who joined the company in 2008 and is the Director of Operations, managing the custom ordering process. From 2009 to 2013, the company processed orders from eight different websites organized into categories, including Halloween costumes, seasonal clothing, school supplies, massage and medical clothing in addition to anatomical models.
But the strong point of the company was the anatomical models, and the company gradually abandoned or sold the other lines of business.
Doctors often contact Anatomy Warehouse for help preparing for complex and unusual surgeries. Cordell and Huff work with vendors who can produce unique 3D-printed models that are useful in pre-surgical preparation, allowing the surgeon to visualize a surgical site from multiple views and practice different approaches. Cranial models are a specialty.
For products the company develops in-house, Cordell said it relies “on a team of external healthcare professionals to review or contribute” to the quality control process.
“Medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies and life science companies can contact us for anything,” Huff said. “We made trophies. This can include adding a custom logo to the base of a template. It could be developing a completely bespoke training model to demonstrate a surgical technique… or an R&D model to test a new device before regulatory approvals.
Both Cordell and Huff said they are much more aware of what their doctors are doing because of their work. “We train future doctors and nurses. We better do a good job because we could be their next patient,” Huff said.
Fake injuries, seen on TV
Their work isn’t entirely dry and technical, and you don’t need to have taken a college-level anatomy course to see their products up close – if you’ve watched shows like Bones Where The Walking Dead on TV, you’ve probably seen their work too.
Anatomy Warehouse sells casts, or simulated injuries, used in film, television and theater productions, as well as health training and education, such as disaster training for first responders.
“We sell manikins that can be wirelessly programmed to bleed, vomit and grab,” Huff said, all to make the scene or training much more realistic.
Cordell and Huff are sensitive to the wishes of their customers. Skin tones are available in light, medium and dark. The company is committed to adapting the models to reflect the diversity of bone structure, including skeletons that are not only of European origin.
“The medical community has been run by European men…forever,” Huff said. “But there is a wider selection that we try to represent, and we push our European manufacturers to represent.”
In recent years, the company has updated its product descriptions to remove ethnic or geographic references. Faces are described as having masculine features or feminine features instead of being labeled masculine or feminine. “It’s a dynamic space,” Huff said. “It’s our job to listen to our customers and our community and have them lead what they think is the best way to represent those things.”
The products also represent different body types. “On the manikin side, there are rescue training manikins that are specifically focused on water rescue, and they can simulate a realistic weight or a heavier model to be more challenging,” Huff said. “We also have bariatric models with different weights and proportions.”
Business looking to grow, can’t find the right place
The company’s #1 anatomical product is a full-size male skeleton. On the health care side, “intravenous arms” are the sales leader. IV arms are used to teach blood draws, injections, infusions and needle selection. The way to get good at a skill like drawing blood is to practice, repeating the same action, correctly, over and over again. A good model enhances this training.
And now Anatomy Warehouse is looking for more space. He’s yet to find the right spot, but Cordell emphasized how special Evanston is to him and his team.
“We really hope we can stay here,” he said.
#Anatomy #Warehouse #Evanston #bones #bit #Hollywood #Evanston #RoundTable