Babson grad starts business to help fellow Lyme disease sufferers
The longtime Jamestown summer resident has been receiving treatment for chronic Lyme disease since 2007. She is the co-founder of PICC Perfect; the acronym stands for peripherally inserted central catheters, which are lines injected into patients’ arms to administer Lyme medication.
After nurses told her cutting a sock was an effective way to cover a catheter, Levy came up with a brighter way to lighten her day. Her company manufactures armbands in a variety of styles sand colors that cover the PICC lines with more flare than socks or hospital supplied mesh covers.
Levy believes her Lyme disease was contracted out of state, but is aware of the high rate of sufferers in town. She understands the importance of May being Lyme disease awareness month.
“Almost everyone in Jamestown has had it at some point,” she said. “But mine is a severe case because I went undiagnosed for so long.”
During her freshman year at Babson College in Massachusetts, Levy had a PICC line inserted into her arm. She was told to keep the line protected from weather elements. As she walked around campus, Levy felt classmates were treating her as a sick person.
“I really felt that people were looking at my arm,” said Levy, who experiences chronic numbness and exhaustion. “Then I realized that I’m not the only one who felt self-conscious.”
She combined that experience with what she learned in business school. A Kickstarter campaign in April 2015 raised $13,200, and PICC Perfect began selling its covers three months later.
The sleeve covers, Levy said, are made with medical-grade elastic and an anti-microbial fabric. The armbands have a two-way fold with a hole through the lining for the IV. It was developed so patients would not have to expose their bandage during treatment.
“Every day, we hear something amazing,” Levy said. “I got a message yesterday from a girl who wore it to prom. She felt like a normal 16-year-old girl.”
According to Levy, who graduated two weeks ago with a bachelor’s degree, the company is reevaluating its business plan. The name will change to reflect the expansion, but the PICC Perfect trademark will continue to brand their line covers.
Patricia Henriques, an adviser for women entrepreneurs at Babson, said Levy has found a market with “very clear needs.”
“I think this company has tremendous potential,” Henriques said. “Because of her Lyme disease, she understands her customers in a way that is very beneficial.”
PICC Perfect has been recognized since its founding. Levy’s college named it the 2015 student business of the year, and it also won the student category of the 2016 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition earlier this month.
Levy and her team currently are looking for permanent office space in Rhode Island. The company’s supporters have no doubt in its future success.
“She’s a rock star,” Henrigues said about Levy. “She’s got the passion, the resilience, the grit and the determination. She’s really going to be incredibly successful.”