What long-term impact do you think COVID-19 will have on hospitals’use of reusable healthcare textiles, such as isolation gowns?

“COVID-19 fundamentally made the healthcare linen industry more relevant as healthcare providers sought alternatives to disposables for PPE. Not only as a substitution for disposables, but more importantly assuring an uninterrupted supply of gowns and related items to frontline workers. We made it a point to actively reach out to our clients to participate with their COVID-19response teams; by doing this, we became a vital source in key areas such as reusable disinfecting wiping cloths, up to the sourcing of various reusable PPE items for full-scale conversions to reusables, As for the future, disposables have become more available and prices have come back down, which means the industry needs to focus on the value equation, the convenience, the assurance of supply and the reduced environmental impact of reusables. As long as we bring something to the table that drives that long-term value to our healthcare partners—we will win.”

—KARL FILLIP II, COO | NOVO Health Services | Atlanta, GA

“Since the onset of COVID-19, Emerald Textiles has seen the demand for reusable healthcare textiles, such as isolation gowns, dramatically increase as hospitals could not acquire enough disposables. With the increase in demand, the supply chain and availability of items such as isolation gowns was overwhelmed. Fortunately, Emerald was able to secure and supplement our reusable isolation gowns and other high-demand items from several vendors and manage our inventory to meet our customers’ requirements. Although COVID-19 cases are decreasing, we continue to see demand for these items and believe that hospitals have changed their procedures to ensure worker and patient safety. We expect that as part of the procedural changes, utilization of high-quality healthcare textiles such as reusable isolation gowns will continue, although at reduced rates compared to the high point of COVID-19.”

ANDY KRATKY, President of California Operations | Emerald Textile LLC | Lisle, IL

“When the pandemic started and the disposable market fell apart, there was a surge in demand for our reusable gowns unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The demand for reusables outstripped the supply in the country. But thankfully we have great supplier relationships, and we were able to meet our customers’ needs. We now provide more reusable isolation gowns than ever before to our customers, but with the return of disposables to the marketplace, we are seeing that our customers now have a mix of reusable and disposable gowns. My hope is that they continue to use a reusable gown and then keep the disposables as a backup option. Here in the Northwest, people are more conscious of their environmental impact, and as a reusable textile provider it is our job to continue to remind them of that and keep them on the path toward reusable products.”

KELSEY VAN MIERT, President – Customer Relations | Northwest Health Care Linen | Bellingham, WA

“We believe the COVID-19 pandemic exposed real issues with the disposable PPE and surgical gown supply chain. The part of the world that the majority of the disposable products come from shut down, and the inventory that was on hand in that area remained within their borders. Also, a major recall based on sterilization Q/A issues occurred; there were raw-material shortages and lengthy transportation times. And these were just some of the major issues that all healthcare institutions experienced. Some of this is still occurring. We have been designing, manufacturing and selling reusable PPEs and surgical gowns, wrappers, drapes and outlining the benefits of reusables for many years. Features and benefits include: more cost eective, superior barrier performance, safe, more comfortable to wear, more sustainable, a consistent supply chain utilizing reliable laundries with redundant capacity, etc. The COVID 19 pandemic brought these benefits to the forefront once again.”

—JOHN WINTZ, Regional Group Vice President/Regional Director Midwest Sales | Standard Textile Co. Inc. | Cincinnati, OH