Premier and 34 health systems partner with DeRoyal to expand domestic production of isolation gowns

Nov. 16, 2020

Premier Inc. announced they and 34 member health systems partnered with DeRoyal Industries Inc. to create a new joint venture dedicated to the domestic production of isolation gowns.  

A new entrant in the market, the joint venture will produce isolation gowns in an existing facility just outside Knoxville, TN. Raw materials will primarily be sourced from U.S.-based manufacturers, with backup capacity from Mexico and South America. In this unique collaboration, gowns are designed to specifications considering the hospital systems’ care delivery requirements, while also allowing for fully automated production that can scale over time. To support the venture long-term, health system co-investors also signed multi-year commitments to purchase a portion of the isolation gowns used each year from the joint venture. 

Medical products critical to the daily operations of health systems are overwhelmingly sourced overseas, with approximately 80 percent of personal protective equipment (PPE) coming from Southeast Asia. The risks of this overreliance came into sharp focus as COVID-19 swept across the globe and many nations closed borders and prevented U.S. access to supplies, triggering shortages of PPE needed to protect healthcare workers and the patients they care for. 

In addition, sourcing from overseas makes replenishment difficult, as it can take 90-120 days for foreign products to reach U.S. shores, depending on country of origin, weather, mode of transportation and customs processes. As a result, approximately 74 percent of U.S. hospitals reported they were unable to source adequate quantities of isolation gowns in the month of April, a problem that has continued as COVID-19 continues to spread.  

Gowns produced by the new joint venture are expected to be available in mid-2021. 

Premier has the release