Give us feedback


Internet Explorer is not supported.

It is recommended that you view this website on the latest version of Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari.

Threads of Change

Ecotex Compel Level 2 Gown AAMI PB 70:12 Approved

Back to Our Stories

St. Paul’s Hospital adopts reusable surgical gowns.

Among the countless challenges posed by COVID-19, Providence Health Care (PHC) faced a critical shortage of disposable surgical gowns at the height of the pandemic. St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown operated at almost full capacity, depleting their stock of PPE.

As a result, staff were resorting to using surgical gowns as isolation gowns. The situation demanded a stable, secure option to source surgical gowns. In response, Providence collaborated with Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service to introduce reusable surgical gowns, making St. Paul’s the first site in BC to trial this innovative approach. To ensure quality, Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) made sure that the program complied with CSA/ORNAC standards and verified gown sterility.

The reusable gowns can be used up to 100 times, tracked by a label on the back and tested for integrity using a pressure test machine. Ecotex launders and delivers the reusable gowns, while St. Paul’s Hospital staff sterilize them on-site in the Medical Device Reprocessing Department (MDR).

After 100 uses, gowns are repurposed as warm-up jackets or donated as isolation gowns. While exact cost savings are challenging to quantify, the project aligns with the environmental impact goals of Providence Health Care.

 A stable foundation comes from reusable products.” Don Wills, Director of Logistics & Facilities Services, emphasizes.

For clinical staff, the switch has been a welcome change. Physicians — many of whom are sustainability champions — were especially enthusiastic. Ecotex, being a committed vendor, has also been a benefit: after several nurses reported irritation from the cuffs of the gowns, Ecotex worked hard to resolve the issue.

As with most changes in health care, it is an iterative process. The project team is working on addressing challenges, such as the need for more inventory and storage space. Purchasing an inclusive and expanded sizing run is also a priority (though 98% of staff fit into the standard-size run).

With this pilot, PHC initiated an improvement that has provided a stable solution and significantly reduced environmental impact. With a dedicated vendor and highly collaborative departments within the organization working together, sustainability, staff safety and patient care are totally covered.