Hospital 'johnny' redesigned because of complaints from Muslim women

Posted: Friday, August 13, 2004

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Maine Medical Center has redesigned its hospital gown after discovering that Muslim women accustomed to being fully covered were skipping appointments to avoid wearing the immodest garment.

The old ''johnny,'' as the garment is known, leaves a patient's backside and legs exposed. The new gown, which became available this summer, fully covers patients.

''This is a great example of a challenge raised by a specific community that can ultimately benefit all patients,'' said Dana Farris Gaya, manager of interpreter and cross-cultural services.

Maine Medical administrators decided they had to act last November after the hospital identified a high no-show rate for Muslim women from African countries, particularly Somalia.

As many as three out of 10 women were skipping their appointments, said Osman Hersi, a medical interpreter at the hospital.

Tracked down at home, the women described the horror of being asked to wear the revealing gowns during outpatient procedures and while waiting in a hallway in the radiology department. Islam teaches modesty in dress, and the women said the gowns went against their religious and cultural beliefs.

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