Sara Cox, CNRN, tries on one of the first NewGown prototypes in fall 2020.
Patients with an altered mental status are a common sight on the orthopedic, neurological and trauma units at Maine Medical Center (MMC) where Sara Cox, CNRN, Neuroscience Patient Navigator, has seen patients in consult for six years. These patients often pull at their medical lines and tubes due to discomfort, and many have to wear “mitts” to prevent interruptions to their treatment. Transitional care facilities cannot accept patients wearing mitts, so discharge may be delayed. After witnessing the frustration and sadness of so many patients over the years, Sara was inspired to find a way to help.
“In 2018, I thought about how our traditional hospital gown could be redesigned for our neuro-compromised patients,” says Sara. “I wanted to help them be comfortable, stay covered and not have easy access to necessary lines and tubes as they progress in their recovery.”
Combining her devotion to compassionate patient care with research from her own experiences and those of her fellow nursing team, Sara joined the MaineHealth Innovation Cohort in fall 2020 to develop an initial prototype of this reimagined gown. She calls it “The NewGown.”
The romper-style patient gown has easy-to-use snaps along its inseam and side, providing full coverage of the patient and quick access to medical tubes and lines by the care team. Additionally, two drawstrings along the torso provide patients with a safe “distraction” from tampering with medical lines.
MaineHealth Innovation connected Sara with Jim Mangini, RLLD, Director of Linen Services at MMC, in order to the get the newly-designed sample gowns washed and sterilized before a trial with patients. Jim then introduced Sara to Standard Textile Company (STC), an international textile manufacturer and vendor for MaineHealth, who enthusiastically worked with Sara to make several more versions of the gown in various sizes and fabrics. STC hand-delivered gowns to Sara and the Innovation team in June 2021.
Maine Medical Center’s Melissa Fairfield, RN, (left) Nursing Director of R6, and Lynne Keller, RN, (right) Clinical Nurse Educator of R6, model the latest NewGown prototypes.
After a successful initial pilot with one very positively-affected patient, nurses from Sara’s unit and throughout MMC asked when they could get more NewGowns. The gowns not only made patients feel more comfortable and less exposed, they said, but also enabled the care team members to provide care more efficiently. The NewGown innovation illustrates how compassion and a simple idea can have a significant impact on MaineHealth patients and care teams.
Sara received a new batch of modified gowns in December 2021 to use in an expanded pilot at MMC with patients from the neuro intensive care and other hospital units.
Sara Cox, CNRN
Supervisor, Neuroscience Patient Navigator
Maine Medical Center
MaineHealth Supply Chain
Maine Medical Center Linen Services
Standard Textile Co.