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New Hospital Gowns Aim To Fix An Embarrassing Problem

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — When you think of a hospital gown, you probably also think about an exposed back and a bare bottom. It’s something patients commonly complain about and dread.

This month a new patient-friendly gown made its debut at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. The project was six years in the making and involved a student design competition and a testing phase.

Certain features make the gowns a better fit for patients and their caregivers. Doctors and nurses need access to your body in order to treat whatever it is that has landed you in the hospital. That’s why patients are usually required to wear gowns.

Convenience comes at a cost. Over the years, patients have complained they feel exposed and uncomfortable, even embarrassed — until now.

This is where fashion and functionality meet. The new patient-friendly gowns offer brighter colors, stronger fabric, a wrap-style with snaps along the sleeves and side-ties.

“What you mostly see on hospital gowns is that your back side is hanging out,” Christa Getchell of the Park Nicollet Foundation said. “But not on this one.”

The new gowns allow patients more modesty while still providing doctors and nurses the ability to provide care.

“When you are laying in the bed and you have the ties that go down like this, they become pressure on your skin,” Getchell said. “So because of that, it’s now smoother and you are sitting in your bed healing and not having pressure points.”

“With the snaps on the side, if a physician has to get in for easy access, to get to a heart because of something going on, and also there are pockets,” Getchell said.

Methodist Hospital tested the gowns for six months in a pilot program, and then asked patients for feedback.

“We learned that they go ‘I feel better, it’s more comfortable,'” Getchell said. “And when a patient feels good about who they are, then that also intrinsically helps with their healing process.”

Because the patient feedback was positive, the gowns will now be used in all Park Nicollet and Health Partners clinics and hospitals.
The program began as a college student design competition in 2011.

The Park Nicollet Foundation then worked closely with the contest winners to bring their designs to life.

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