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Murrow College of Communication at WSU

Pullman Regional Hospital Designs New Two-Piece Maternity Hospital Gown

PULLMAN – Pullman Regional Hospital is working on a new gown design for maternity patients. The hospital is teaming up with a design team at Washington State University’s Department of Apparel Merchandising, Design and Textiles to update the design using research and technical inputs.

          The gown was first made by Laurie Heimbigner, a now-retired nurse for Pullman Regional Hospital, and was given to Dr. Chanmi Hwang, the lead principal investigator for the design project named Towards Mass Production: Developing Functional Maternity Hospital Gowns that is being funded by a New Faculty Seed Grant at WSU. The goal of the project is to mass produce functional and sustainable maternity hospital gowns while reducing the material used in the production process. Dr. Hwang said that the process has taught her many things about problems with the traditional hospital gown.

        “We found that most of the current gowns are made of woven polyester cotton which after a few washes it gets really stiff, and it’s really revealing because most of them have full back openings and the material is really thin making them all around uncomfortable,” Hwang said.

        Dr. Hwang also has Lindsay McCoy, a graduate student, and research assistant, is helping in the research of making the best gown possible. McCoy said she called more than 20 hospitals in Washington for pictures of their current hospital gowns to make the best color scheme and add anything they might have missed. McCoy also helped in conducted several focus group sessions to finding that her work on the maternity gown also applies to many products in today’s society.

“It just made me realize how many products are out there that don’t meet people’s needs, that don’t include research, and that you can make something so much better when you actually get feedback from real people who are going to use the design,” McCoy said.

        The prototype is now a two-piece gown that takes away the full open back. The team used softer cotton fabric, added sleeves, pockets, and made sure the gown was easily accessible by using elastic bands around the waist of the skirt.

        McCoy and Dr. Hwang said they are so thankful that Pullman Regional Hospital trusted their team with the project and said the research could not have been done without the hospital’s help of recruiting participants for their focus groups and providing a place to do their interviews.

Pink and white two-piece maternity gown

Dr. Hwang and McCoy with their prototype

        Dr. Hwang and Lindsay McCoy will conduct wear-testing focus groups at Pullman Regional Hospital this month as well as a national online survey to evaluate the new prototype. The final prototype is expected to be finished sometime in May.



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