Making Gowns for Medical First Responders

Answering a call for help, a Michigan sign-making company pivots to manufacturing hospital isolation gowns.


Colorful banners. Massive 3D foam props. Customized shipping containers. In normal times, visual branding specialist, Britten, Inc., serves America’s top professional sports teams, entertainment agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

“But I truly believe the work we’re doing now to help our hospital and medical partners is some of the most important work we’ve ever done,” says President and CEO Paul Britten, “

Days after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer passed her “Shelter In Place” order, Britten met personally with local hospital officials to explore ways his company’s manufacturing expertise could aid frontline medical workers. The hospital shared guidelines for producing reusable isolation gowns. Back at Britten’s HQ, prototypes were built and delivered for testing. After retooling its manufacturing line, the sewing machines were soon humming with a team working two shifts every day to fulfill the community need.

MANUFACTURING IN TROUBLED TIMES

Michigan’s closing of nonessential businesses on March 24th forced a company-wide shutdown, though now with new gown guidelines approved and a waiver to operate, the team has returned to the fabrication floor. All CDC guidelines and additional safety and health precautions were implemented at Britten’s main manufacturing facility, including requiring all team members to wear masks and protective gloves while remaining 6-feet apart at all times.

“Our protective gear is a necessary part of balancing the health and safety of our team as they help in this effort,” says Britten. “In addition to supplying PPE, we also built barriers between each work stations using PVC piping and clear plastic vinyl; used decals on the floor to mark six-foot distances; and established glove, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipe stations throughout the building. We’re taking the Governor’s order very seriously so we can help flatten the curve while working to help the community the best way we can.”

EXPANDING PPE PRODUCTION

In Michigan and across the country, demand for hospital gowns is still outsourcing supply. Britten has responded by making its services available to any hospitals and healthcare workers across the nation who need help.

As his team fine-tuned the lean, production process, Britten says their output quickly increased every day. Team members from all departments within the company are stepping up to learn how to use a sewing machine to aid in the fulfillment of these gown orders.

“I won’t be happy until this virus is a bad memory and all our people are back to work,” says Britten. “But in the meantime, we’re going to help where we can. And right now, that means using our machinery, creativity, and ability to make stuff to fill the void of protective gear for medical professionals.”

Interested in purchasing a gown? Click here.