To Reduce Hospital Waste, She’s Making Reusable Hospital Gowns, Wraps, and More
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According to research from The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, hospitals in the U.S. can produce as much as 14,000 tons of waste daily. About 25 percent of this originates from plastic packaging and single-use products such as gowns, masks, and other materials.
To reduce waste in hospitals, Kezia Fitzgerald and her team at CareAline used a data-driven approach to design reusable medical wraps, gowns, and masks that are comfortable and recyclable. The co-founder and chief innovation officer collaborated with hospitals across the U.S. to create gowns and masks for nursing homes, schools, dental offices, and medical facilities. These products can be washed and reused up to 100 times.
“The cost was almost 70 percent less compared to a disposable system,” Fitzgerald tells CircleAround, “The gowns are FDA-registered, and our U.S.-based manufacturing allows us to quickly provide both now and in future PPE shortages.”
Prior to the pandemic, Fitzgerald focused on vascular access products, creating a line of body wraps and fabric sleeves that help keep external venous access and gastric lines secure, off of the patient’s skin, and covered.
“For the caregiver/clinician, the insertion site is easily monitored by simply moving the product to the side,” she explains. “For hospitals, our products save time and money. For patients, we combine hospital grade safety with improved quality of life and comfort.”
“We are here to help because we’ve been there,” she adds.
Fitzgerald is transparent about the data and protocols she uses before her products are distributed. White pages, safety reports, and clinical trial results are easily found on the CareAline website. She makes accessibility a priority, using vivid, colorful images of products and thorough instructions for wraps and sleeves.
“Hospitals that have added CareAline as part of their standard of care immediately see improved patient outcomes, decreased vascular access line complications such as CLABSI and dislodgment, and higher patient satisfaction,” Fitzgerald tells CircleAround. “Improved clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction have proven how much these products can change lives and line management as we know it today.”
2020 was the first time many people experienced a quarantine, but for Fitzgerald, a two-time cancer survivor, the restrictions felt familiar. She had just gotten out of a three-month period of isolation after undergoing a stem cell transplant. Then, the pandemic began. She used this unexpected extended quarantine to focus on growing her medical products company in a new way.
Fitzgerald and her team were awarded several funding grants to continue to innovate the medical product industry, and to use their talents and resources to help aid healthcare workers during the pandemic, and beyond.
Creating a product that helps others, based on your own personal experience, can be a powerful feeling. Fitzgerald is proud that these products have been thoroughly tested and developed by both scientists and patients to ensure they work for all ages and sizes. She’s figured out how to make the medical field more sustainable while giving patients products that are safe and comfortable to use.