Playing Hospital Dress-Up PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 04:44

Playing Hospital Dress-Up
The white, sterile environment for a hospital just doesn't scream "kids," so one local designer revamped the traditional gowns to turn hospital stays into a time for dress-up.

Hospitals can be scary for grownups, so for kids they can be downright frightening. Locally, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center goes to great lengths to "kidify" their halls and waiting rooms with bright murals. They even have child life specialists, who work to make hospital stays less stressful for patients and their families.


So after talking with one of those child life specialists, local fashion designer Sally Pipkin decided she wanted to help the cause. And she got started on a new design for the hospital gowns.


"I wanted to redesign children's hospital gowns because they're just a take on adult hospital gowns, which aren't good to begin with," Pipkin says.


So she set out doing some research by asking parents, patients, nurses and medical students for their input on the necessary elements of a hospital gown. And her end result includes:


1. Dress-up Designs


Pipkin kept the kids' mentality in mind. "I flushed out a bunch of different concepts about celebrating the patient in the hospital room and how to let kids be kids again," she says. 083010FASHION2.jpgSo she came up with ideas for a "bravery crown," IV cover and screen printed designs on the back.


"With the bravery crown, they earn stickers to put on their bravery crown by doing something brave like getting an IV in," Pipkin says. And if patients have to have an IV, they get to choose from 10 designs, which range from a robot to a rainbow, for the patch on their IV cover.


Another kid-friendly detail is with the screen-printed backs of the gowns. Patients don't have to check their imaginations at the door, as they can have either a set of butterfly wings or a super hero cape on their back. "It's just kind of something special to add that dress-up element," Pipkin says.083010FASHION3.jpg


2. Colorful Bamboo Material


Pipkin added some color to the sterile white hospital. Using almost the full rainbow of colors, the material for the gowns also serves more than just an aesthetic purpose. The bamboo material provides a comfortable gown that is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.


"Fungus or bacteria have a hard time growing on [the material]," Pipkin says. "You can add that property to different plastics or materials if you wanted to, but bamboo's already naturally like that."


3. Snap Closures


Instead of the tie back that some kids might not even know how to do, Pipkin subbed in large plastic snaps that close on the side. The snaps on the side make it easy for kids to be able to close their gowns by themselves and make sleeping a little more comfortable, as1209KROMBHOLZ.gif they don't have anything poking them in the back.


4. Exam Access Points


In her research, Pipkin learned that maximizing skin-to-skin contact is important for doctors to examine their patients, so she kept this in mind with her design. "The gown has the opening on the right side because physicians always do abdominal exams on the right side of the patient," Pipkin says. The side entry also provides access to a urinary catheter if need be. And a second snap closure on the front provides easy access for a stethoscope or chest catheter.


While Pipkin's designs have not been picked up for production, she has entered the Cincinnati Innovates contest with her "Patients at Play" submission. To check out or vote for her designs, head to her submission page.




Top Photo
Photographer: Neysa Ruhl
Model: Sally Pipkin
Location: Lofts@4120

Middle and Bottom Photos
Photos courtesy of Sally Pipkin

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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