LAKEWOOD RANCH, FLORIDA – A consultant says Lakewood Ranch Medical Center is the first hospital in the world to have some of its staff try a new medical garment that combats infections with a germ-killing ingredient woven into it.
Orlando-based Vestagen Technical Textiles has manufactured scrub tops, pants, lab coats, isolation gowns, sheets for patient’s beds, cubicle curtains and T-shirts under the Vestex brand name that not only have an antimicrobial woven in to repel microbes, but a nano-particle barrier that can repel body fluids, said Linda Spaulding, an international infection control consultant.
Spaulding, a registered nurse who lives in Lakewood Ranch, has done consulting for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and is on the advisory board for Vestagen Technical Textiles, which enabled her to get the products to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center recently for a test, she said.
“I think this could revolutionize the way health care works,” Spaulding said.
How it works is perhaps a little hard to understand for non-scientists, but the company Web site, www.vestagen.com, explains the clothing lines uses a “nanoparticle hydrophobic barrier” to repel fluids of all kinds. The antimicrobial agent imbedded in the fabric is what can be a barrier against infections, Spaulding said.
“If drool or blood splashes on it, it won’t adhere,” Spaulding said.
Wilma Schmidt, a registered nurse at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, plans to wear Vestex clothing while working during an upcoming trip to Haiti.
Vestagen has offered to provide free scrubs to Schmidt and seven others from her church group who are going to Haiti soon, Schmidt said.
“It’s going to make working in those conditions more bearable since we won’t be soaking wet with sweat all day long,” Schmidt said.
Spaulding laughed when it was suggested the outfits could be used for staying clean while eating spaghetti at a restaurant, but she said the company could consider that, and perhaps a line of children’s clothing.
The company’s Web site quotes statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that state that infections kill nearly 100,000 yearly and add roughly $30 billion to the nation’s health care tab.
The outfits seem to cost only a few dollars more than non-antimicrobial garments.
Traditional scrub pants, for example, run about $19 while the new material pants cost $24, Spaulding said.
Other garments are also $4 to $6 more, Spaulding said.
The whole hospital has not converted over to the new scrubs, but the surgery manager of the hospital is wearing the new gear as well as the emergency room staff, Spaulding said.
“I’ve had pregnant women say they want these scrubs,” Spaulding said. “I currently have a lab coat made of the new textile that I wear every day. It’s hard to go back once you realize you are protected.”