INCubator Spotlight: A New Goddess in the World of Healthcare

By Austin Anthony

Nurses aren’t angels.

They don’t go hand in hand with hearts and rainbows.

Such an anecdotal and desultory definition proves far too simplistic and limiting.

This antiquated notion fails to convey the college-level knowledge base, critical thinking skills and hard work required for this occupation.

On the positive end of the spectrum, nurses are considered angelic miracle workers who selflessly brave 16-hour shifts to care for 15 to 20 patients at a time; on the negative end, the general preconceived notions of bedpan cleanup, IV management, pain med distribution and shot administrator equate to a warped perception of nurses as doctors' handmaidens.

But, there is far more to this characterization than what the masses view nursing to be, a key ingredient to the essence of nursing that everyone seems to forget.

What truly sets nurses apart is a combination of technical prowess, psychosocial skills and mental fortitude necessary to save lives.

Anyone who works in a hospital knows that the role of nurses goes far beyond their traditional duties: ensuring patient comfort, monitoring vital signs and dispensing medicine.

Nursing is an integration of science and care. Nurses take the knowledge they have gained from their education as well as their experience and apply it every day, while simultaneously being there to comfort patients in their times of need, whether that be via a morphine drip, repositioning or simply a listening ear.

When nurses are angels, it’s easier to keep them in a pretty box, like a cute figurine. But, it’s difficult to help patients – or yourself – from inside a box.

If nurses are, in fact, not angels, then they share a common trait with us, the patient: They are susceptible to disease.

Despite this obvious observation, why do nurses essentially wear polyester pajamas made in a low-rate factory?

Many of us take work home with us at the end of the day. Typically, it’s not really a big deal.

However, for nurses and other health care workers, the frightening reality is that they can carry potentially dangerous germs, bacteria and other contaminants home on their scrubs and uniforms.

Although nursing uniforms have come a long way since the days of Florence Nightingale and frilly caps, standard scrubs remain highly impractical, generally uncomfortable and a magnet for harmful pathogens.

But, like the efforts of Nightingale in Crimea, there is hope for those who suffer from the plight of abysmal scrub selection.

Members of the health care industry who wear traditional scrubs now have another option, thanks to INCubator business Aegle Gear.

"They've taken bed sheets, and they've sewn it into pajamas," says George Brown, the cofounder of Aegle Gear. "Nurses are just like athletes. They perform under intense stress."

A few years back, renowned professionals in the athletic industry, George Brown and Uli Becker, took notice of how technological advancements in the world of athleisure could play a pivotal role in the comfort and performance required by workers in the health care industry.

The pair spent years working as executives in the sports apparel industry (both worked for Adidas, and Becker served as CEO of Reebok). Now, they’re channeling that wealth of experience into designing uniforms for medical professionals.

“We designed apparel, so athletes could jump higher or run faster, but health care workers save lives and wear night gowns,” Brown says. “We knew we could do better.”

So they did.

With their intricate and modern design, Aegle Gear uniforms effortlessly elicit the attention of a hospital ward. But, these uniforms are more than ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing.

They are “super” uniforms.

Aegle Gear approaches clothing design and technology like an athletic gear company but modifies it specifically to the needs and demands of health care professionals. Not only are Aegle Gear’s uniforms comfortable, attractive and tough, they’re also fluid-resistant and treated with antimicrobial technology that eliminates infectious germs. The goal is to make employees happier, reduce hospital-associated infections and give hospitals a visibility augmentation through a sleek, branded look.

As evidenced by a viral Facebook video review, Aegle Gear’s most alluring feature is undoubtedly its fluid resistant capabilities.

During my tour of the INCubator in the Hamilton County Business Development Center, Brown demonstrated this fluid retardant power by pouring red wine over the uniforms. Upon touching the surface, the wine amalgamated and could be simply brushed off the uniform, leaving no trace of its presence.

But, the ingeniousness of Aegle Gear uniforms doesn’t clock out at advanced antimicrobial technology.

For health care professionals, hospital uniforms are an essential part of the wardrobe. So, why can’t they be both stylish and comfortable?

No, these aren’t the haute couture runways of Milan or Paris, but in the hallways of hospitals, it’s summer, and…well, some minds are turning to warm weather fashion. Medical fashions. As in how to look and feel your best in and out of the operating room.

“We understand that comfort and style are the most important concerns for health care workers,” Brown says.

“The design of our garments is designed like your favorite athletic gear. We spent time studying the movements of health care professionals and built uniforms to move the way they did, as we listened carefully to each need. For example, we didn’t just add pockets, but we built pockets that managed space for specific tools. We built pants that don’t pull down when you bend over. We added a zipper fly, unheard of in traditional scrubs. Also, the fabric we utilize is durable yet breathable and feels good on the body.”

Most antimicrobial, fluid resistant uniform brands only retain their resiliency for up to 50 washes. How does Aegle Gear compare to the competition?

“Our product lasts much longer than any other antimicrobial brands,” Brown says. “We tested our uniforms through 100 industrial washes and witnessed no differences from day one.”

Much like the Greek Goddess the company is named for, Aegle Gear pays honor to medical professionals through its unmatched fabric design and development.

“Others win races, I save lives.”

These words, stitched on the tags of Aegle Gear’s clothing, reflect the company’s roots.

Much like the antiquated caps and capes (once staples of a nurse’s wardrobe), current scrub standards at hospitals are dirty, unwieldy and impractical – even dangerous.

Hospitals are certainly not a sterile utopia, and Aegle Gear wants to spread their message to those lacking awareness of the dangerous reality of transmission dynamics.

The work of the nurse is relentlessly challenging. Rapid technological advancements, chaotic environments, higher patient acuity and a plethora of other factors place enormous pressures on nurses every day.

It’s clear that sometimes the most important work of a nurse is quite subtle and often invisible; sometimes, only a gentle touch is needed at a vulnerable time; or, a sturdy presence – simply the act of compassionately listening – is needed.

Aegle Gear understands the complex responsibilities of the healthcare worker.

"I am grateful for the years I spent designing gear to help athletes compete at a higher level. It has truly served me well when it comes to resourcing professionals who are on call to save lives," Brown says. “My desire is to spread this company’s mission statement to the health care community: ‘Making ordinary extraordinary.’”

Nursing is a three-dimensional modern profession.

Nurses aren’t angels.

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, was no "angel."

But, she was a bright, aggressive, flawed human being who – like other nursing leaders since – made lasting scientific and social contributions to the world. Thus, to suggest that nurses are angels, even with the best intentions, may actually diminish their real worth.

They deserve our admiration. They deserve our support.

By providing health care workers with the respect and protection they deserve, the result is not ordinary, but extraordinary care.

To learn more about Aegle Gear or purchase uniforms, visit their website or their Facebook page.