Cleveland Clinic Gowns Get von Fursternberg Touch

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , September 8, 2010

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, best known for her wrap dresses and bold prints, has taken a new step for the Cleveland Clinic: providing advice on designing a new hospital gown. The open-backed gown of yesteryear, still found in many hospitals, is being replaced with sides that tie and the Cleveland Clinic logo in the fabric design.

The clinic had been working on a new design for the last three years. Several prototypes were created but turned down for not being more attractive than the older gowns. A chance meeting between von Furstenberg and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove at a medical conference changed the dialogue: He invited her to work with the clinic's design group to create the garment.

A clinic executive, Jeanne Ryan, flew to New York to meet with von Furstenberg's team for the redesign. The requirements for the clinic, Ryan said, were that the gown should be comfortable, accessible for medical procedures and treatments, and practical for both ambulatory and non-ambulatory patients. The fabric had to lightweight and comfortable yet durable enough to withstand multiple washings.

In a pilot study earlier this year on the colorectal floor at the Clinic's main campus, a problem with the gowns was noted with the snaps failing to fasten properly. The hospital team fixed the problem--just in time--to begin a second trial on the general medical surgical floors at nearby Fairview and Euclid hospitals and in the Clinic's vascular intensive care unit on the clinic's main campus.

Initial feedback on the new gowns has been good, according to Ryan. However, some men have commented that they found the print fabric a bit too feminine. Consideration is now being focused on changing the color scheme, and determining fabric shrinkage.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at




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