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Macomb Township

July 31, 2013

Macomb woman’s invention helps people manage their meds

By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

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Kathi Sitek, of Macomb Township, is the inventor of the Pill Pouch, a medication management visual aid that is especially well-suited for seniors.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A customer review on Kathi Sitek’s website calls her invention the “best thing since sliced bread,” but it all started out as a simple tribute to her mother.

“When I was taking care of my mom in Hamtramck about six years ago, she was taking as many as eight different medications,” recalled Sitek, a 60-year-old Macomb Township resident. “She was having a hard time keeping track of them all, so I wanted her to have a way to recognize all of her pills really quickly and easily.”

Sitek’s solution began with a reused piece of cardboard. She taped a sample of each pill to one side, organizing them in the order that they should be taken throughout the day. Next to each pill, Sitek recorded the name, dosage, usage and special instructions. She even drew small icons to depict what each pill was used for.

This list helped Sitek’s mother, Stella Mazur, follow a daily schedule and take each of her eight medications as prescribed. Because it was small and portable, the list was taken along to Mazur’s doctor appointments, to the pharmacy and in case of emergency. It served as a reference guide for medical professionals to see which pills she was taking.

Although Mazur passed away in August 2007 at the age of 90, the tool that she inspired lives on. Buoyed by the encouragement of her husband and numerous doctors and nurses, Sitek decided that her simple piece of cardboard could prove useful for more people than just her mom. Just like that, the Pill Pouch was born.

“I just thought it was something that could help make life easier for a lot of people,” Sitek said. “It certainly saves a great deal of time for patients and their doctors, and it eliminates any confusion or frustration for them. It also can improve the health of the people who use it. There’s too much re-admittance at hospitals these days because patients forgot to take their medication or took the wrong dosage.”

In addition to seniors, Sitek pointed out that the Pill Pouch is popular among parents with children who have attention deficit disorder or a similar condition, as well as with people who take a lot of vitamins and supplements.

The Pill Pouch sells for $8 and is available in three different colors: blue, green and pink, with $1 from the sale of the latter benefiting The Pink Fund, an organization that provides financial aid to breast cancer patients. The product is also entirely made in Michigan, specifically at a manufacturing facility in Troy. “It’s a little more expensive doing things that way, but it’s definitely worth it,” Sitek said.

A turning point in the growth of the Pill Pouch occurred in January 2012, when Sitek’s children returned home to Michigan to help their mother bring her creation to the next level. Her son, Matt, came in from Baltimore to run the business side of things, while her daughter, Jessica, moved from Philadelphia to handle marketing and communications.

Since then, Sitek said that sales have increased by at least 75 percent. A patent for the Pill Pouch was obtained last October, and the product is now available for purchase at 58 Meijer stores, seven Binson’s home health care centers, and various small pharmacies and home care stores across the U.S.

Matt Sitek said that moving home to help his mom with the Pill Pouch was an easy decision. “This is not just a product to be sold — it’s much more than that for us,” he explained. “The Pill Pouch is a big part of my grandma’s story and the legacy that she left behind. And now, it has turned into something that can truly help people. It’s not just about managing your medications; it’s about building confidence and relieving stress in your life.”

For Matt Sitek, working with the Pill Pouch means doing “a little bit of everything,” from managing the product’s finances, to figuring out a long-term business strategy, to developing relationships with medical professionals. The Siteks, who were living in separate states just two years ago, now spend much of their time together operating the new family business out of an office in midtown Detroit.

“That can create a lot of tension because we can be very blunt with each other,” Matt Sitek admitted, “but it’s a good kind of tension that pushes all of us to do our best. This product has really come a long way from a couple of years ago. It has grown by leaps and bounds, and it has also brought us closer together as a family.”

Kathi Sitek noted that ever since the Pill Pouch has taken off, one of her biggest missions has been to encourage other aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas. But in the spirit of the product that made the final years of her mother’s life so much easier, she always tells people to create something that will do more than just make money.

“There are a lot of great ideas out there,” she said, “but if it’s something that really helps other people, then I think it’s going to go a lot farther. I get so many nice letters from people who have bought the Pill Pouch, and that’s very rewarding for me. This is more than just a trinket or a fad that people are just going to throw away — it’s something that they’re going to hold on to for a long time.”

For more information on the Pill Pouch, call (313) 288-2055 or visit www.pillpouch.net.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Jeremy Selweski at jSelweski@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5004.