August 4, 2008

New York Hospital Gowns Offer More Modesty: New Gowns for Patients Are Less Revealing.

By Tom Joyce, York Daily Record, Pa.

Aug. 4--You know that when the hospital gives you a gown, the end is in sight.

Maybe it's because of the gowns that they call it the "I.C.U."

They're kind of like health plans -- they never give you as much coverage as you'd like.

Yes, Doris Pope-Banks, clinical products coordinator for York Hospital, said she knows that hospital gowns rank up there with mother-in-laws and airline food in the pantheon of comedy cliches. The traditional design leaves a considerable gap down the middle where it ties, leaving patients with the embarrassing options of positioning the fasteners in front or in back.

Pope-Banks said hospital administrators hoped to do away with that problem when they recently introduced a new line of hospital gowns, designed to be less revealing. But even Pope-Banks can't resist getting in a crack about the old-fashioned model.

"We're seeing a lot less of our patients now," she said.

According to Pope-Banks, hospital administrators first got the idea for redesigned hospital gowns about a year ago. First, they surveyed medical professionals in the hospital to find out what their clinical needs would be for patient garb.

Then they went to the New York-based co-op that provides and launders medical wear for the region, and they asked them if they could develop a gown to meet the new specifications.

The new gown fastens on the side, not on the front or the back, Pope-Banks said. Unlike the old model, it doesn't leave a torso-length strip of flesh visible

at a strategically inconvenient point on the human anatomy.

It also has longer sleeves. With the old gowns, Pope-Banks said, female patients in particular used to worry about the vistas they'd expose when they raised their arms.

For all the additional coverage, Pope-Banks said, the new gowns also have fastenings that afford doctors and nurses access to different parts of the patients' bodies, whether they need to change an I.V. line or see how some stitches are healing.

"The response from the patients has been favorable," Pope-Banks said.

She said that more than just modesty is at stake.

For many patients, getting out of their beds and taking a walk is part of their recovery. That can be strenuous, and it doesn't help if the very clothes the patients are wearing give them one more disincentive to get out of bed.

Edgar Miller, 69, of Mount Wolf said he'd just taken a walk through the hallway on his fifth day as a hospital patient. His health is improving, he said. And as far as he's concerned, the new gowns represent a big improvement, too.

"You don't have to hold them shut in the back," he said.

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