BRADENTON — Entrepreneur Nancy Hart recently unexpectedly went from creator to consumer of her own product Patient Scrubs, a two-piece garment she developed as an alternative to hospital gowns.
The former Bradenton resident started sales of Patient Scrubs in December, then learned in January she had breast cancer.
“This has been the longest eight months of my life,” she said.
Hart, who moved to Tennessee several years ago, returned to Bradenton for treatment that consisted of four sessions of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy.
Throughout her treatments, Hart wore her own Patient Scrubs. The shirt and shorts give patients more privacy than open-back hospital gowns, and the seams are lined with plastic snaps so doctors can easily open the gown.
“I wore them everywhere,” Hart said. “Everywhere I went people would ask me, ‘What is that you’re wearing.’”
Since starting online sales in December, Patient Scrubs has sold 50 of the two-piece hospital garment sets, and have been placed in gift shops at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and North River Family Health Center in Palmetto.
Dr. Scott Engel, of Sarasota Plastic Surgery Center, said the garment has the potential to replace the open-back, one-size fits all hospital gowns.
“They’re a great addition to the medical field,” Engel said. “It takes away the sense of being a patient. It improves patients’ self esteem.”
The product could take off at hospitals if the pricing is more competitive with hospital gowns, Hart said.Currently, Patients Scrubs cost $38-$41 a set and shirts and shorts are priced at $21-$23 each.
Hart wouldn’t disclose what price point she needs to lower the garments to for hospitals to purchase them but said she is close to reaching a deal with an out-of-country manufacturer who can produce the garments at a lower price.
Hart said she is in talks with 148 hospitals nationwide who are interested in purchasing the garments if the price is lowered.
Vernon DeSear, spokesman for Manatee Memorial Hospital, said the Bradenton hospital would consider switching to the product at the right price.
“It’s a great product and I think everybody loves what she’s done with it,” DeSear said.
Patient Scrubs underwent five years of extensive product development and testing that began with Hart’s late husband, Robert Lee Hart Jr., who died in 2003 at 59 after complications from cardiac and carotid surgery.
Nancy Hart hand stitched a prototype of the two-piece hospital garment to give her husband, who was in and out of the hospital for eight months. He enjoyed the comfort and privacy the gowns offered over the traditional open-back gowns he was using.
“This product is about giving people back their dignity and privacy,” Hart said.