Super-scrubs: Northwell fights the forces of infection

My bad, all good: Christine Marigliano, nurse manager at Cohen Children's Medical Center, takes one for the team to show off the liquid-repelling benefits of the hospital's new high-tech "super-scrubs."

They don’t come with capes or cowls, they’re not powered by an indestructible “arc reactor” and they can’t shrink surgeons to ant-size, but new super-suits are making heroic impressions on the Northwell Health system.

The innovative scrubs and lab coats, created by Florida-based medical manufacturer Vestagen Protective Technologies, can’t stop bullets, but they can repel dangerous microorganisms – a huge infection-fighting advantage for staffers and patients alike.

Northwell Health first incorporated the contaminant-busting uniforms – made from Vestex, a patented “cross-platform” fabric that’s been proven in hospital-based studies to repel fluids and reduce surface microbe retention – in January in the hematology-oncology unit at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

That made Northwell Health the first healthcare provider in Greater New York to employ the advanced scrubs and lab coats. The Vestex garments are now worn by 60 percent of all CCMC staffers, and it’s expected the super-scrubs will be standard issue for the entire Cohen staff by October.

The switch to the anti-infection coveralls followed a staff survey that showed an “overwhelming preference to move toward new ‘active barrier’ uniform technology,” noted Carolyn Quinn, RN, the children’s hospital’s deputy executive director.

“We engaged our healthcare workers in an educational process surrounding the role that uniforms play in staff and patient safety,” Quinn said. “Investing in healthcare-worker safety, infection prevention and patient safety is paramount to our organization and embedded in our culture of care.”

The Vestagen Protective Technologies garments, which were endorsed by the American Hospital Association after a rigorous due-diligence process, are also appearing in lockers at Northwell Health’s North Shore University Hospital, which “embraced the new technology-driven scrubs from the start,” according to Kerri Scanlon, RN, the Manhasset hospital’s chief nursing officer.

“The feedback we received from our team members was essential to the success and implementation of the new uniforms at North Shore,” Scanlon noted. “Partnering with frontline caregivers improved the design process, resulting in an enhanced professional image.

“It also provided an opportunity to emphasize the importance of patient and caregiver safety.”

Given the success of the Vestex apparel at the two facilities, Northwell Health is now “considering expanding their use to other hospitals across the health system,” Northwell said in a statement.

Jon Sendach, NSUH’s deputy executive director, said the steady spread of the uniforms fits the health system’s longstanding approach to microorganisms and infectious contaminants.

“Innovations around infection control have been a central theme at North Shore University Hospital over the past few years,” Sendach noted. “The rollout of these new fluid-repelling, antimicrobial uniforms is another example of our commitment to our employees and patients.”

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