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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

High-end fashion designer comes through during hospital gown shortage

December 16, 2020 GMT
Edward-Elmhurst Health (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Health)
Edward-Elmhurst Health (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Health)

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers on the COVID-19 units at Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital, part of the Edward-Elmhurst Health system in suburban Chicago, got a high-fashion boost this year when a renowned designer created isolation gowns for them during a shortage of personal protective equipment.

Mac Duggal, known for creating special occasion gowns, shifted focus to medical isolation gowns after he was contacted by Edward-Elmhurst Health CEO Mary Lou Mastro.

“We were running out of isolation gowns,” Mastro says. “I was starting to panic. I cold called (Duggal) and said, ‘You’ve never met me, but our sons know each other. I always thought I’d call you some day to make my mother of the groom dress, but we’re running out of isolation gowns so is there any way you can create some?’”

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Duggal said he would do whatever he could to help healthcare workers.

The hospital system typically purchases and uses about 50,000 isolation gowns per month, says Matthew Hess, system director of supply chain for Edward-Elmhurst Health. When COVID-19 hit, Edward-Elmhurst Health used its monthly quantity of gowns in a single week.

Because isolation gowns were placed on allocation by their manufacturer, the health system was unable to purchase additional quantities. This led staff to look for alternate sources.

Amidst a shortage of material and high demand, Duggal searched for the best non-woven material to use for the gowns, which must be impenetrable by liquid and strong enough to resist tears.

“It took a little while to find good fabric, but my whole team went to work,” Duggal says. “We knew we had no choice, because this was needed fast.”

Once the isolation gowns were manufactured, Duggal found space on a ship loaded with evening gowns destined for the United States.

“We swapped out evening gowns and put the gowns for Edward-Elmhurst Health on it,” Duggal says.

Edward-Elmhurst Health purchased 400,000 Mac Duggal gowns that arrived in five semi-trucks in August 2020.

“At the time, we had a supply crisis situation with isolation gowns,” says Mary Anderson, manager of infection control at Edward Hospital. “There just weren’t enough available anywhere in the world to meet the needs of healthcare facilities. It was a very desperate hour.”

Every time a healthcare worker enters the room of a patient with a COVID-19 infection, they put on a new gown and dispose of it after they leave the room.

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The Mac Duggal gowns are high-quality and include features suggested by Anderson and her colleagues — elastic and thumb loops at the wrists, Velcro at the neck, a belt that allows someone to put the gown on and fasten it without help from someone else. The fabric is impermeable but breathable so they’re comfortable.

“They’ve been a pleasure to work with,” Hess says. “Both Mac and his son, Yuvraj, just two individuals who genuinely care.”

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SOURCE Edward-Elmhurst Health