Medical masks are on everyone's mind these days, and rightly so. To protect healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, they are probably the most vital piece of PPE companies can start producing, as many in the outdoor industry have done, selflessly and valiantly. But they're not the only piece of equipment that matters. With N95s and face shields constantly in the headlines, less attention has been paid to medical gowns, though they also play a crucial role is flattening the curve and keeping hospital workers healthy. Luckily, a few businesses in the outdoor industry have stepped up to help, converting their manufacturing processes to produce gowns and shipping them to healthcare facilities all over the country.
Companies that specialize is gown-like products—fishing waders, for example—are in an especially advantageous position to help. Simms began making gowns earlier this month for Bozeman Health Medical Group, a hospital close to the fishing gear company's Montana headquarters.
“The gowns we are producing truly fall into our core competency," said Fred Dennis, Simms' senior director of apparel design and development, in a statement about the effort. "We have the material, equipment and an expert team of sewers ready and willing to make the gowns.”
Each Simms gown is made of a three-layer waterproof material that meets requirements stipulated by Bozeman Health.
“In order to combat the shortage of protective gowns, it is critical for our brand to play a part," said Simms CEO Casey Sheahan. "We are thrilled to deliver the first run of gowns to the Bozeman Health Group and hope our efforts of support can extend beyond our local community."
Last week, Dickies announced that it would leverage the resources of its parent company VF Corporation to convert plants in Mexico and Honduras to start producing FDA-compliant gowns "as an urgent response to the needs of many hospitals and healthcare workers." The gowns will be made with fabric from industry partner Milliken & Company.
"We are committed to equipping these workers with the critical medical garments they need to protect themselves as they continue the fight against this pandemic," said Dickies' global brand president Denny Bruce in a statement.
The company expects to deliver 50,000 gowns to U.S. hospitals by May, 675,000 by June, and up to 3.4 million by September. The video below shows material being prepared at a Dickies facility for gown production.
Last month, Canada Goose also got involved in making scrubs and patient gowns at two of its plants in Toronto and Winnipeg, with roughly 50 employees at each facility working toward a total of 10,000 units.
If your company has the capacity to produce gowns, you can easily find resources like this one to help you make them safe and effective for healthcare workers.
Finally, to all companies and individuals dedicating time and resources to making PPE—gowns, masks, or anything else—we've said it before, but we'll say it again. Thank you.