PA Helps Transform Graduation Gowns Into PPE

Creates Initiative, Gowns4Good, to Donate Gowns to Healthcare Workers

May 1, 2020

By Nathaniel Moore, PA-C, FAWM, Sustainable Innovation MBA ‘20

Nathaniel Moore standing in front of the Emergency wing wearing his graduation gown
Nathaniel Moore, PA-C, FAWM, created Gowns4Good to connect graduation gowns with healthcare workers who need PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are so many individuals worldwide suffering tremendously from the effects of COVID-19. As an emergency medicine physician assistant at the University of Vermont Medical Center, I strive to be a positive, contributing member of our team through these difficult times. However, I was struck by the images of my colleagues lacking proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and wearing trash bags as makeshift gowns.

I am also heartbroken for all the graduating seniors whose commencement ceremonies were postponed or canceled to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Then, these two thoughts clicked. There was a solution to both help support my medical colleagues while also honoring these graduates.

Founding Gowns4Good
I founded Gowns4Good to coordinate the donation of graduation gowns to healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although efforts are being made to increase PPE production, worldwide demand is increasing too quickly. Instead of makeshift trash bag gowns or other alternative forms of PPE, graduation gowns are more effective given their length, sleeves, and easy donning and doffing with zippered access.

With the help of friends in my Sustainable Innovation MBA cohort at the University of Vermont (UVM), we launched Gowns4Good. Thousands of gowns have been donated by individuals, schools, and institutions. I spoke with a mother who donated a gown in remembrance of her son who passed away unexpectedly two years after his graduation. She was holding on to his gown but said there was no better way to honor his life than to donate it.

Furthermore, thousands more are being requested from medical facilities in need. Hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and pre-hospital services, etc. are all reaching out expressing their immediate need to acquire PPE. We recently received a note from a New York City emergency department that ran out of gowns but are still overwhelmed by patients.

Nathaniel Moore standing with his packages that are ready to be shipped out
Moore has donated more than 2,000 gowns as of May 1.

Recognizing healthcare workers and graduates
Our first priority is to protect those healthcare workers facing COVID-19 head on; however, we also want to recognize our graduates. As a way to honor student academic achievements, we are mailing our Gowns4Good logo to all donors along with instructions for students to attach it to the mortarboards of their graduation caps. Students with altered commencement plans can still wear their caps with pride to signify their generous efforts.

We are calling on students (past and present), schools, and corporations to donate graduation gowns that won’t be worn this year or might be collecting dust at home. The instructions for both donating and requesting gowns are outlined on our website.

I am deeply humbled and grateful by the outpouring of support and hope to continue protecting our families, friends, and strangers near and far through these troubling times.

Nathaniel Moore preparing his packages to ship
Moore getting a few boxes ready to ship.

What is Your Advice to Other PAs?
There are four key points I wish to share with colleagues:

  1. Say “thank you.” Remember to thank your teammates every day. Those two words can go far. Think of how meaningful a heartfelt thank you can be during a difficult shift. We frequently get so preoccupied by patient care that we forget about those around us. Appreciate the efforts of others, as they too are probably scared through all of this.
  2. Do not hide from your emotions. Maintaining physical, emotional, and mental health are critical to keep sane through social distancing and self-quarantine. This is much easier said than done. To say that I am not nervous going to work during a pandemic would be false. It is scary to read the statistics and then see firsthand the devastating effects of this virus. With that, I encourage everyone to find an outlet. Take a deep breath, call a friend, read a book, exercise, seek support, or find any possible way to relieve the stress of the current situation.
  1. Smile. It is an eerie feeling to walk into work and see everyone wearing masks. You can’t even recognize your co-workers hiding behind the layers of PPE. But please still smile. Even though the grin will be hidden behind the mask, the smile lights up your eyes to provide extra comfort to struggling patients and co-workers. It also can increase your happiness. We need to find security in the little things.o donate
  2. You are not alone. The whole world has stopped and is social distancing and self-quarantining. There is no more FOMO (fear of missing out) because no one is getting together without you! Please remember what you are feeling is most likely the same as your co-workers and neighbors. We will get through this together.Most importantly, thank YOU for all of your efforts each and every day!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong.

Nathaniel Moore, PA-C, FAWM, specializes in emergency medicine at University of Vermont Medical Center. He received his M.S.PAS from Bay Path University and will earn an MBA in Sustainable Innovation from the University of Vermont Grossman School of Business in August. Contact him at [email protected].

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