By Taylor Ha and Timothy Oakes
Liquid-repellent and antimicrobial lab coats are entering the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park by year’s end, and patient pajamas of the same material may soon follow suit.
Manufactured by Vestagen Protective Technologies, Inc., a medical technology company founded in 2009, these garments made from Vestex possess three special traits. The active barrier fabric repels liquids and dangerous microorganisms, while still managing to stay breathable, according to a 2015 study published by Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
Vestex’s antimicrobial properties that prevent the spread of infection caught the attention of Dr. Peter Silver, CCMC Medical Director and supporter of the Vestex lab coats.
“Can you imagine a child coming in for something that gets an infection and dies from it, that has nothing to do with why they came in the hospital to start with?” Dr. Silver said.
Vestex lab coats are currently under trial in the pharmacy department. Lauren Minuto, a CCMC senior pharmacist, has tested them. Minuto, who deals with liquids on a daily basis, found the new garment more comfortable and efficient than her old lab coat.
“I like the fact that the liquid just rolls off of them,” Minuto said. “Any medications like Tylenol suspensions, amoxicillin suspension, pediatric stuff, mostly suspension.”
Lab coats are not the only Vestex garments to make a new mark at CCMC – patient apparel is also in the works. CCMC has been searching for a specific style of pajamas for its approximately 150 patients. This would address an issue with the facility’s current patient apparel, Dawn D’Andraia, Director of Materials Management and Director of Operations at CCMC, said.
“One of the biggest problems that we get with the pajamas that children wear is they can’t have metal snaps because of x-rays or they can’t have a tie in the back when a child has central lines/PICC line,” D’Andraia said. “The Vestagen pajama has these radiolucent snaps on the sleeves…we can just open them up and not have to actually undress the patient to get the IV.”
Cohen received Vestex pajama samples a month and a half ago. D’Andraia plans to present them at the chief nursing officer’s next meeting, and potentially undergo a patient apparel trial.
The medical center is now concentrating on outfitting 100 percent of its staff into the new Vestex scrubs. 80% of the staff currently wear the scrubs. By the end of October, all CCMC staff will wear the $53 suits, which are more than twice as expensive as Cohen’s previous ones. While Vestagen and Cohen have yet to settle on pricing for the new lab coats, the antimicrobial scrubs have been generally well-received.
“I think infection control is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially as we enter an era with more antibiotic-resistant organisms,” Dina Cicilini, Chief Nursing Officer at CCMC, said.
When transferring patients after surgery, there is always a risk of contact with blood, urine or other harmful microorganisms. Those who work with newborns are especially at risk of contact with microorganisms.
“The biggest difference I’ve noticed is not having to worry about babies spitting up or vomiting, keeping myself safe from other fluids,” Pamela O’Brien, an occupational therapist at Cohen, said.
11 of the 22 medical centers in the Northwell Health system have already begun to introduce the new products. As Northwell’s first facility to adopt Vestagen products, Cohen appears to have started a trend in the medical system on Long Island.