Design Knowledge Intermediary
The Hospital Gown gets a modest makeover
In partnership with students from Parsons School of Design, Care and Wear, a “healthwear company” (it specializes in medical wearables), has created a new kimono-inspired hospital gown that opens in the front, has a shielding pleat in the back, replaces five types of gowns with one, and allows for partial exposure through the use of ties and snaps.
“The current patient gown, with the ties in the back, reinforces a power imbalance between patients and caregivers,” said Dr. Mark Smith, the chief innovation officer of MedStar Health and the director of the MedStar Institute for Innovation. “Patients get stripped of their sense of personhood, of their privacy.”
“If we want to make meaningful change, it’s critical that we partner with companies where we actually put products into the world that have longevity and impact, and we get a sense of how we can measure our social impact,” said Brendan McCarthy, an assistant professor and the program director of the Systems and Materiality pathway at Parsons, whose students helped design the gown. The purpose of the pathway is to expose students to all of the interrelated parts of fashion design, including the sourcing of materials, labor, production practices, waste management and recycling.
The light blue gown MedStar is testing features ties on both sides of the body, one inside and one outside; wide sleeves with plastic snaps that allow the upper arms to be easily exposed when, for example, an IV is needed; a front pocket with a slit for devices that monitor vital signs; side pockets for personal items; and a specially designed pleat in the back to address the aforementioned backside problem. It is made out of a cotton and polyester blend that Rachel Sax Ramos, the head of product at Care and Wear, described as a “hospital chambray” and that can stand up to multiple rounds of laundering.

- www.nytimes.com