The Gowns4Goodnonprofit organization sends donated graduation gowns to medical professionals to use as PPE.
Even as the world hailed health care workers as heroes for leading our fight against the pandemic, the call for personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep these heroes safe echoed across the globe. Doctors and nurses risking their lives to treat those infected were left to test their fate as governments scrambled to solve the drastic shortage of PPE. Meanwhile, a number of individuals and organizations took it upon themselves to come up with solutions of their own, and among them is Nathaniel "Than" Moore—an emergency medicine physician assistant in Vermont—who realized the medical potential of a graduation gown.
According to Good Morning America, the 30-year-old is the founder of Gowns4Good, a nonprofit organization that sends donated graduation gowns to medical professionals to use as PPE. "In learning about colleagues that are on the front lines without personal protective equipment, I had been pulling for ideas, and then finally this graduation gown idea came to me," Moore explained. "I thought, why don’t we try to honor our graduates who can’t use their gowns, upcycle them and reuse them in a manner that can protect and help our health care workers."
Since setting up the Gowns4Good initiative earlier this month, Moore—who is also enrolled in the sustainable innovation MBA program at the University of Vermont—has been receiving thousands of requests for gowns every day. One such request was that of Michele Anstett, the president of a Visiting Angels agency in Massachusetts which offers senior home care services. "I’ve been spending most of my days trying to locate masks and gloves, gowns, face shields, and hand sanitizer. Gowns were like my last thing that I was really struggling to find a supply. Nothing was available," said Anstett.
She'd almost given up hope of receiving protective gowns for her over two dozen employees and was preparing to sew them herself when she came across the Gowns4Good website. With nothing to lose, Anstett put in a request for donated graduation gowns and her prayers were answered the very next day. "I am so overwhelmed," she gushed. "I can’t even express how thankful I am for these people and what they’re doing. These gowns are more than just a graduation gown. They’re a history. You look at them and you can see, they’re from all different time periods, different colors and lengths. They speak a story and these people were willing to donate them to our health care workers to keep them safe."
Moore worked closely with officials at his hospital and tapped into his own experience as a health care worker to ensure that the donated graduation gowns were suitable for use as PPE. "The beauty is they do not have to be adjusted in any fashion," he said of the gowns. "We compared them to other alternative forms that are being utilized, like trash bags, and the gown, if you wear it backward, it makes for easy donning and doffing, which is the putting on and taking off of the gown in a protected fashion."
"And gowns have full-length sleeves and are obviously full-length down to the ground, and if you wear them backward it gives you the high-rising collar line around the neck," Moore added. "When coronavirus first started months ago, there were a lot of guesses out there about the severity of the rate of the transmission. And now seeing the rate firsthand as a medical provider and treating these patients, and seeing the ventilators and the adverse outcomes, coupled with the lack of PPE that is available for my colleagues, it has all been instrumental in motivating me to make a difference." Those interested in donating their graduation gowns for this cause can go on the Gowns4Good website and locate a local health care center to which they can be sent.