Gary Hawk demonstrates his invention, the Hawk Easy Lift, using his wife, Linda, as a model. The lift allows a patient to go from bed to wheelchair without endangering a caregiver’s back. - Jim Craven

Easy does it

When push came to shove, Gary Hawk knew he was licked.

One of the residents at the foster home Hawks and his wife, Linda, operated was just too cumbersome to move around during routine caregiving tasks. So the retired plumbing contractor and state inspector set out to design a next-generation lift.

"All of the existing lifts didn't allow the caregiver to be next to the patient so they could guide and assist them," Hawk says. "The lifting device was so far away that the person could fall or tip over — and it has happened to us."

Five years, a half-dozen prototypes and $43,000 later, he has patented the Hawk Easy Lift and has five units ready for use.

"We had some heavy care people that we just couldn't lift any more," he says.

It took about 21/2; years to put the pieces together and then another two years to get the patent approved, he says. It takes $1,000 worth of components and two days to manufacture each powder-coated aviation aluminum device.

"The motor device rotates so that a paraplegic can operate it and lower himself into a wheelchair," says Hawk, who didn't realize how important his invention would become years after he began work on the project.

His grandson — Lesley Hixon — was paralyzed when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Iraq last February.

"There are thousands of people with no arms or legs and they have to rely on those monster things in ceilings," Hawk says. "They don't have portable devices."

The lifts are initially selling for $1,895, although they will be priced at $2,895 on the Web site at

Hawk's goal was to allow a patient to go from his bed to a wheelchair without endangering a caregiver's back. He also wanted a unit that could be assembled and disassembled with relative ease.

"It took five or six prototypes to get to that point," Hawk admits.

"The first one was pretty crude and it wasn't very efficient, but I finally developed this one that met all my standards and anticipations."

The couple has put Golden Years Elderly Care, which they have operated for 21 years, on hold while launching the new product.

Changing linen can be a daunting task for caregivers, but the micro-fiber blanket cradles the patient, allowing the caregiver to help them into a wheelchair or a bedside commode. The lift runs on a standard electrical connection and can be operated hydraulically if there is a power outage. Because the lift is mobile, a nursing home could buy one unit and simply add receivers to each bed.

"It provides for a very soft travel into their chairs or they can swing and lower themselves into bed," Hawk says.

Although he's marketing the 78-pound device himself, he would be happy to sell the patent to a manufacturer, Hawk says. "There are thousands of nursing homes out there that could use it."

The device is designed to sit over the top of nursing beds used in home health care and nursing centers. However, Hawk says, beds without headboards would require a different model.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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