KIPS BAY — The nurses at a new Kips Bay hospice center are getting a style infusion thanks to Hannah Ross, a fashion design student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Ross, a 20-year-old junior at Pratt, beat out 22 other students in a competition to design uniforms for the nurses at Haven Hospice Specialty Unit, a 25-bed facility at Bellevue Hospital Center that is part of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Hospice and Palliative Care program.
"At first, I was very scared," said Ross, who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. "I'm actually more of a costume designer. I like to design clothes that aren’t very practical at all."
Ross cycled through four or five different designs over as many weeks before she finally settled on her winning entry.
“I had to forget about myself in the project and use my design ability and take what the nurses had to say and turn it into the perfect outfit for them,” she explained.
Ross knew that comfort and functionality were paramount, so she used 100 percent organic cotton in soothing blue hues for each piece of the uniform.
She topped off pants and a light blouse with a spin on the traditional physician’s lab coat. Ross added six pleats at the back of the jacket to allow for extra space when nurses are moving around. Then, when they drop their arms to their side, the pleats fold back, and the coat will revert to its sleek, professional shape, she said.
Ross also made sure to add functional details like side pockets rather than front ones because she didn’t want anything to get in the way of the hugging and lifting that nurses do. She also added tabs on the sleeves to keep them from rolling down when nurses have to wash their hands.
"I was so happy [that I won] because I really did try to do everything that the nurses wanted," Ross said.
The competition offered Ross and the other participating Pratt students “the opportunity to engage in a very meaningful project that makes design matter,” said Jennifer Minniti, chair of Pratt's fashion design department, in a statement. “There is nothing more important than for Pratt students to go out into the world and engage in the broader community and beyond their immediate community and the trends that exist on Seventh Avenue."
Ross’ design will now be produced and worn by the staff at the Haven Hospice Specialty Unit. She also received a $2,500 scholarship from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
The VNSNY also gave scholarship awards to Jefferson Musanda, who placed second in the competiton, and Alicia Arlotta, who came in third.
“This is the first time that VNSNY has married the visual arts with the healing arts,” said Jeanne Dennis, senior vice president of VNSNY Hospice Care, in a statement. “And these wonderful new designs by Pratt's very talented young designers promise to inspire an even deeper sense of caring and comfort."