Monday, August 15, 2022

A new organization is taking graduation gowns and turning them into personal protective equipment

Nathaniel Moore, a physician’s assistant in the Emergency Room at University of Vermont Medical Center, has started a new charity that collects graduation gowns and donates them to health care systems to use as personal protective equipment. (WYDaily/Gowns4Good Facebook)
Nathaniel Moore, a physician’s assistant in the Emergency Room at University of Vermont Medical Center, has started a new charity that collects graduation gowns and donates them to health care systems to use as personal protective equipment. (WYDaily/Gowns4Good Facebook)

When Nathaniel Moore looked around at his peers in the medical field, he was concerned about their lack of protection against the coronavirus.

But instead of just hoping something would change, he decided to do something about it.

In March, Moore started “Gowns 4 Good,” the new national charity that collects graduation gowns and donates them to health care systems in need.

“So it really was a solution to two problems,” Moore said. “There was the image of my peers on the frontlines and then graduates who weren’t getting appreciated and wanted something to feel good about.”

Moore, who is a physician’s assistant in the Emergency Room at University of Vermont Medical Center, said the gowns provide a layer of protection because they cover critical zones on the body when worn backwards. The gowns are convenient because they don’t have to be altered and they can be unzipped in a safe fashion.

They also are made of a material that is washable which allows the gowns to be used multiple times.

When Moore first had the idea, he reached out to some of his peers and started collecting gown donations in his apartment. 

Word spread about the initiative very quickly, and soon there were hundreds of gowns being delivered to his apartment everyday.

“So as it was taking off so much, I had to make a switch to make it more efficient,” he said.

Moore eventually developed a system where health care facilities could list themselves on the organization’s website when they’re in need of donations and then donors can select the facility and ship the gowns directly to those in need.

The program has become so popular, Moore said health care systems are regularly being added to the list of available recipients. 

In Virginia, three facilities are currently participating:

  • Life Care Center of New Market, in New Market.
  • St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, in Norfolk.
  • Tender Touch Health Care Services, in Fairfax.

Sentara Healthcare and Riverside Health System are not currently participating in the program. 

Since the initiative first started there have been 7,500 gowns donated from 49 states and health care systems across the country have requested 8,500 additional donations.

Moore said many of those donations are coming from people with stories behind the gowns. Whether it be a gown of a loved one who has died or one that was never able to be worn, he said each gown continues to be important as it is repurposed.

“I think it’s forever humbling and I’ve been grateful for the support from both friends and individuals nationwide,” he said. “People have just come out of the woodwork to donate these gowns and it’s creating amazing partnerships.”

The organization also has partnered with large gown manufacturing companies such as Graduation Source, which donated 1,500 gowns. 

But as the pandemic continues and more personal protective equipment is created, Moore said he wants the project to continue.

“There’s a lot of chatter around the strategic pivot as things get back to normal,” he said. “Geographically, some areas will be more protected than others but there’s always a need in rural areas and international countries that don’t have protection.” 

The organization continues to grow to involve thousands of people around the country — it continues to work to provide protection for those in the frontlines of the pandemic.

“I think the message it’s sending is that we can all have an impact, no matter how big or small,” he said. “A small idea that originated in Vermont is hitting a national scale, so there’s never an idea that’s too small to help people in need.”

To learn how to donate, visit Gowns 4 Good online.

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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