Personal protective equipment or PPE has been in been in short supply in NH and, while Elliot Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, both part of SolutionHealth, have managed supplies and orders in advance of the surge, isolation gowns are a particular concern.
With a mix of talent and innovative spirit, some inspired nurses at Elliot Hospital took on the challenge of enhancing supplies.
Registered nurse, Heidi Kukla, who works in the Intensive Care Unit at Elliot, developed a pattern for a disposable, detachable gown. Working with colleagues who volunteered their time, Kukla developed prototypes that went to infection prevention staff for testing and review.
Once the teams landed on a pattern and material that met necessary clinical standards, Kukla reached out to fellow ICU nurse Stephanie Joyce who owns AR Workshop in Manchester for help. The facility had been closed because of the “Stay at Home” order issued by Gov. Chris Sununu. Now it's transformed into an isolation gown-making shop.
SolutionHealth purchased materials for the group to create more gowns to be used at Elliot Hospital and Southern New Hampshire Health.
Kukla says the disposable gowns will cost less than $0.25 each and the washable gowns will cost about $10 each. She says volunteer labor was key to keeping costs down.