Just today, Governor Cuomo called on apparel manufacturers to look into making masks too. Christian Siriano wrote back instantly on Twitter to offer his team’s help, and other designers have likely reached out, too. According to my sister, in addition to face masks, they should research how to make a variety of gowns and surgical drapes, which are laid over patients during procedures. Her hospital is quickly running out of both of those supplies, which they need to treat coronavirus patients as well as the many other people they’re taking care of. Gowns and drapes are made of thin fabrics, likely cotton, so a designer could feasibly make them in their studio; the main challenge will be ensuring they are produced in a clean environment and arrive at hospitals in sterile packaging. Certain gowns must be FDA-approved as sterile, as nurses and doctors are required to wear sterile gowns if they’re performing surgery or a sensitive procedure, like putting a central line (or catheter) in a NICU baby. Each sterile gown comes in its own plastic sleeve, and the factories must follow FDA regulations. There’s often a need for “regular” gowns, though, which are not classified as sterile, but are still brand-new and clean. For certain tasks—like assisting in an operating room, or seeing a patient in isolation—a regular gown is sufficient. “They’re mostly to cover your scrubs, which could be dirty, or to protect yourself from whatever the patient is positive for,” Liz explained.
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