Collaboration of a team from Inova Health with La Forma Medical developed an isolation gown that was cooler, better fitting, and more environmentally-friendly than disposables.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in facilities all across the country. The second-most used PPE, the isolation gown, was one that was especially scarce. Health care workers used whatever they had on hand that fit the infection prevention requirements. However, a multi-disciplinary team at Inova Health System formed to design a gown that would better fit, be sustainable, and protect their frontline workers better than any other brand they had tried.
Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Lucy He, director at Inova Health System, and Michelle Peninger, Assistant Vice President of Infection Prevention at Inova System to discuss their success of developing user-friendly, custom, reusable isolation gowns to combat the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. They presented their findings at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“As part of our COVID-19 response team, we had a creative solutions PPE committee that started working on a sustainable solution for isolation gowns,” Peninger told ICT®. “It took a little less than a year for it to come to fruition. There was a lot of work that went into planning and researching and creating the gowns. But it was born out of a necessity to provide appropriate PPE for our team members.”
One of the key innovations of this new gown design is the pull cord at the front. “In previous gowns that we used, there's a tie in the back that you'd have to undo; you take your hands behind your neck and untie,” He explained that untying could be difficult for some people. However, she continued, “This new gown has a pull cord on the left shoulder. In 1 swift motion, when you pull down, that [movement] automatically will undo the snaps in the back. So that pull cord is something that we've not seen in isolation guys before.”
ICT® also spoke with the Jonathan Maloney, co-founder of La Forma Medical, the manufacturer of the custom gowns, at the APIC conference. Maloney is proud of the pattern, design, and style that came from working with Inova on the new gowns. Maloney emphasized the sustainability of LaForma’s operations and the lowering of the carbon footprint of the gowns versus disposable gowns. For Inova, the savings were 52% and 80% for surgical gowns. The gowns are rated for 100 washes; however, the company recommends 50 washes for isolation gowns and 75 washes for surgical gowns.