Amid national PPE shortage, Dignity Health in Arizona designs innovative and reusable fabric isolation gowns


Fabric flown to Arizona by National Guard for gowns to be produced this week.

PHOENIX – Dignity Health in Arizona has designed an innovative and sustainable isolation gown as a solution to the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The fabric for the gowns was flown in by the Arizona National Guard last week and the gowns will be made this week at F.A.B.R.I.C., a local Tempe non-profit organization.

Dr. Ronald Gagliano, a Dignity Health surgeon, designed the isolation gowns, which are made of a highly durable fabric that can withstand more than 100 washes and provide more protection to health care workers than the commonly used disposable gowns. Dr. Gagliano, a U.S. Army Veteran, drew inspiration for the design from his time in the military and as a medical disaster response planner.

Last week, with the help of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona National Guard was called in to fly nearly 7,000 pounds of highly coveted material to Arizona from a plant in North Carolina. The materials were provided by Precision Fabrics Group, a leading manufacturer of woven and non-woven protective fabrics for multiple industries, including the health care workforce.

The gowns are in production at F.A.B.R.I.C., a non-profit organization in Tempe that provides resources to emerging fashion designers. A team at F.A.B.R.I.C. is working around the clock to create approximately 8,500 FDA-approved isolation gowns for Dignity Health employees on the front lines of this pandemic.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way organizations from coast to coast are coming together to meet the needs of health care workers providing critical care to those in need,” Dr. Gagliano says. “This project is a game changer and a long-term, sustainable business model for all of the health care industry.”

“We are proud to partner with these organizations to help Arizona meet this health care crisis,” says Sherri Barry, co-founder of F.A.B.R.I.C., which stands for Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center. “Innovation is in our name, and it is driving us to produce equipment for health care workers on the front line. We’re doing everything we can to make a dent in the PPE shortage, but going from being a no-minimum factory to filling orders for thousands of isolation gowns is a huge task.”

“The Arizona Army National Guard’s motto is ‘Always Ready, Always There’. Those words guided us as we carried out a mission to help protect Arizona’s front line health care workers,” says Adjutant General Michael T. McGuire of the Arizona National Guard. “The Arizona National Guard is proud to partner with Dignity Health in Arizona, F.A.B.R.I.C. and Precision Fabrics Group in North Carolina to help make this project become a reality. It takes the whole community to create a sustainable solution.”

"We really consider this to be a new era in developing protective fabric for today's health care work force,” said Byron Bassett, corporate vice president of Precision Fabrics Group.  “It's exciting to be able to provide the supply chain solutions to meet the needs of our great partners at Dignity Health."