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Fastsigns ‘Zee Designed & Donated Gown Patterns to Hospital


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Melanie Hossler, a Fastsigns ‘zee in Augusta, Georgia, drew instructions on the gown designs to make it easy to put together, and within three months, Hossler and volunteers had made and donated more than 10,000 hospital gowns.

Advertising and printing service franchise Fastsigns launched initiatives to create social distancing signs, plexiglass face shields and dividers during the pandemic, and one franchisee took it a step farther. Melanie Hossler, a Fastsigns ‘zee in Augusta, Georgia, noticed a shortage of disposable gowns at her local hospital, so she designed a pattern and got to work.

Laurie Ott, the vice president of community services and president of University Health Care Foundation, reached out to Hossler after the nonprofit hospital in Augusta started running low on gowns to keep healthcare workers safe.

“About an hour and a half after Laurie asked for it, we brought the gown sample to our store, I took it in the back, took it apart, laid it out on some rigid plastic material, drew a pattern from it and cut it out by hand,” Hossler said. “We had about four ladies who were going to volunteer to make gowns out of plastic tablecloth material, so I made four patterns at the time and gave that to them that day. Within a week, she needed about 10 more, so we just kept making them and knocking them out.”

Hossler drew instructions on the gown designs to make it easy to put together, and within three months, Hossler and volunteers had made and donated more than 10,000 disposable hospital gowns. Some nurses who would have been furloughed because of cancellations in elective surgeries were able to switch over to making gowns.

“Laurie filled a need with our pattern and she helped to keep these nurses working,” Hossler said. 

Hossler and her team also donated cutting mats to the University Health Care System to increase their table space and production ability. With local nursing homes reopening visitation hours to friends and family, there continues to be a need for hospital gowns, Hossler said.

“It was really a no-brainer. We saw a need as they arose and we just stepped in,” Hossler said. “The designers here put together some things, and we got support from the franchise.”

In addition to increased production of personal protective equipment such as face shields, Fastsigns has also been creating plexiglass dividers. There is an industry-wide backorder on clear acrylic right now, Hossler said, so many of Fastsigns’ vendors have stepped up and switched some of their products to creating holders for acrylic pieces to help out.

“We had a customer who was a speech therapist for children, so she needed (a divider) she could carry with her,” Hossler said. “We created a lightweight, portable version for her that she could pick up by the top and carry it with her from child to child. It was extremely mobile and neat.”

Hossler and her team also stocked up on floor graphic material and special wall vinyl, as many of their customers are businesses that need social distancing reminders and testing site signage.

“It happened in such a way that people were coming to us before we could even try to mass-email (these product offerings) out to our potential customers. People were already knocking on our door, saying they need something to remind people to stay six feet apart,” Hossler said. “We’re getting through this rough time, and it’s pretty neat seeing all of the creativity that has come about from our customers and area businesses and neighbors. People have really gone out of their way to adapt during this.”

With more than 700 locations, the investment range for a Fastsigns franchise is between $218,596 and $298,679.

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Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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