When someone is at the hospital, the goal is for the patient to get better without spreading disease. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 2 million patients annually suffer from hospital acquired infections, leading to nearly 100,000 deaths.
That's why Baptist Health staff are changing their wardrobe.
New uniforms that provide an extra safety layer for employees were distributed Wednesday.
Baptist Health is investing more than $1 million for the staff uniforms. The hospital system will eventually roll out new patient garments that will have the same protection.
The uniforms feature technology designed to repel fluids and minimize the risk of transmission of hospital-borne infections that normal scrubs aren't protected from (as pictured below).
"What research has shown conclusively is that uniforms do become contaminated very rapidly with organisms about two hours into a work shift," said Ben Favret, of Vestex.
The new uniforms have a durable fluid barrier and an anti-microbial that prevents infectious organisms from being retained on the fabric.
Baptist Health is the first health care system to adopt the uniforms hospital-wide.
To make the transition to the new garments as soon as possible, Baptist bought about 30,000 garments for more than 6,000 employees. It also purchased another 40,000 for patients, which will be rolled out in September.
The new garments for patients will include not just the traditional hospital gown, but also scrub tops and shorts.
"When you are in the hospital, you really want to have as much control and as much normalcy as you can," said Diane Raines, chief nursing officer for Baptist Health. "So if you can wear shorts and a top and still be a patient, that allows you to walk up and down, and they are more like the clothes you wear at home."
The new uniforms will be color-coded by function -- for instance, different colors for nursing, imaging, respiratory therapy and environmental services.
"We are really excited that the opportunity to have the entire staff at all levels look professional, and you'll be able to look by color and know who is coming into your room," Raines said.