Warm, Fuzzy Feelings … in the Operating Room

A model patient sits in a hopsital chair wearing Bair Paws

Flimsy cotton gowns that leave a patient’s bum exposed are a
seeming staple of the hospital experience, but not for patients in
the same-day surgery center at Hazel Hawkins Hospital in
Flimsy cotton gowns that leave a patient’s bum exposed are a seeming staple of the hospital experience, but not for patients in the same-day surgery center at Hazel Hawkins Hospital in Hollister.

The hospital uses Bair Paws patient warming gowns, which hook up to small warming units mounted behind each gurney. Patients get to control the air temperature in their gowns – which have a discreet overlapping side tie – with a small remote attached to the machine, said Troy Bergstrom, senior press relations specialist for Arizant Healthcare, which produces the gowns.

Based in Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, the company began retailing the Bair Paws gowns 18 months ago in response to patient complaints about chilly hospital pre-op rooms and modesty concerns.

Most hospitals today provide patients with reusable, back-tie cotton gowns, but patients often complain that the gowns do not cover their posteriors, making a vulnerable time feel even more uncomfortable, said Bergstrom.

They also complain about cold. On average, each hospital patient requests nine warmed cotton blankets during the perioperative period, which encompasses all of the time that elapses before, during and after their surgery, according to Arizant Healthcare.

‘Temperature is the big concern,” said Bergstrom. “It’s one of the chief complaints of surgical patients, and the heating element has been – outside of not having their rear ends exposed – the thing patients have liked most.”

When Paicines resident Louise Callens, checked into Hazel Hawkins for a surgery last year, she was pleasantly surprised by the dove gray disposable gowns.

“Before you have surgery, you usually feel cold and nervous,” said the septuagenarian, who enjoyed the gown’s tie. “But this time, I had a cozy, warm feeling with a pleasant, even temperature. It was very soothing.”

Patients such as Callens have been giving the hospital higher marks since the gowns were introduced in winter 2003, boosting the scores of Hazel Hawkins’ regular patient satisfaction surveys, according to nurse Nancy Ammerman, clinical coordinator for same day surgery and recovery.

“People are so happy with the adjustable warming system,” Ammerman said in a written statement. “Besides giving patients more control over their own comfort and helping them feel calmer, the Bair Paws system actually enhances healing and decreases infection because it encourages circulation. Patients also tell us they feel less pain.”

The gowns, which circulate warmer or cooler air pumped in through a tube, are unhooked from the temperature-control unit during surgery, but Arizant Healthcare will debut a new heating model later this month that will allow patients to stay warmed on the operating table as well. The new model is designed to maintain the comfort level of patients undergoing extremity surgeries, such as knee, wrist or cosmetic surgery, said Bergstrom.

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