New hospital garments could minimize infection

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As staff and patients become increasingly concerned about the risks of hospital-acquired infections, one local health care system is exploring an innovative approach.

Baptist Health has adopted specialized staff and patient garments to minimize the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

The garments feature Vestex textile technology, which has a durable fluid barrier that is highly repellent to bodily fluids, dirt, water, and oil.

Ashlene Gormley is a nurse at Wolfson Children's Hospital. She likes the added protection the uniform gives her and her patients.

"Especially working in the newborn ICU, I mean, babies pee on you. They throw up. It's nice to know that it's not going to absorb into your under garments and that you can get up and wipe it off," she said.

Baptist Health is the first health system in the country to adopt these protective uniforms.

Ben Favret with Vestigen technical textiles spent the past year working with Baptist Health. Together, they developed a color-coded system so patients can recognize which employee works in which department.

He said these uniforms are more effective than non-protective scrubs.

"It's about setting a new standard of health care worker safety and patient safety," he said.

Chief Nursing Officer Diane Raines said hospital-acquired infections, like MRSA, are a big concern even in the cleanest and most sterile environment.

By protecting the health care worker, that means the patient is also protected.

"It reduces their exposure to organisms while they are in the environment," she said.

Patients will receive the same type of apparel come fall.

Baptist Health spent more than $1 million on the new uniforms. Staff will be provided with three sets at no cost.

Raines said employees will be able to donate their old scrub to an organization that will likely send them to Central and South America.


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