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Issue Date: September 2007 Issue

Gown to Business

It all started with a new hospital gown — a garment that ties in front like a bathrobe and, unlike its infamous predecessor, keeps the derriere well under wraps.

It’s just one of the changes happening at the Cleveland Clinic these days under the watch of new chief experience officer Dr. M. Bridget Duffy.

Everything from how staff members interact with patients to the state of hospital food is getting a thorough checkup.

At the same time, the Clinic has hired Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, Calif., which counts the landscaping of the World Trade Center Memorial among its project roster, to help design campus green spaces, and added a massage and meditation space to one of the heart floors.

And while the Clinic asks its patients for improvement suggestions, the idea for the hospital’s most welcome change, the gown revamp, came from its employees.

“I tried to get [fashion designer] Donna Karan [whose] life partner died of lung cancer recently,” says Duffy. “I saw her on ‘Good Morning America,’ and she challenged every designer in New York to redesign the hospital gown. We’re still working on getting her to help bring more visibility to the gown. So stay tuned.”

1. The new gown wraps around the body and ties in the front rather than back — the biggest and most noticeable improvement over the old design.

2. Snaps across the breastbone provide a secure fit, while a small opening in the back gives medical personnel access to a patient’s body.

3. The new gown is longer than the traditional “Johnny” gown.

4. Just to remind patients who brought them such comfy gear, the Clinic’s blue and green logo is displayed on the right front of each gown.

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