A hospital consultant has teamed up with an acclaimed dressmaker and a sail manufacturer to create hard-wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be reused by frontline healthcare staff.
It is hoped the product can drastically reduce the country's dependence on PPE imports and long supply chains.
University Hospital Waterford (UHW) consultant ophthalmic surgeon Gareth Higgins worked with Waterford dressmaker Colette McGrath and renowned sail manufacturer Richard Marshall to create the hard-wearing gown, which meets all criteria required for frontline staff.
Dr Higgins, who teaches medical students, said the high-quality gowns were produced thanks to a perfect coming-together of skill sets in Waterford.
"Initially I asked them to make a batch - Richard Marshall had a machine that he could cut panels for Colette McGrath, so they made a batch of 100," he told local radio station WLRFM.
"They were so ideal - they are light, they are much more robust than the paper gowns that we have and they feel very protective, so once I had them I realised that this is absolutely ideal and they can be rewashed.
"The (UHW) management were very much behind me and very interested so we managed to get an initial batch of 3,000 made up for the hospital."
Their gown is comfortable and offers the reassurance of being much tougher-wearing than light disposable gowns.
The concept of reusable, high-quality medical gowns is nothing new. Reusable gowns that were sterilised in a long, hot wash cycle were once the bedrock of some hospital services.
However, they were replaced over the years with disposable gowns.
"I think that long term, for everything, we are going to have to re-examine these really long supply chains, even if it is more expensive, if it can be produced locally, it can be scaled up," Mr Higgins said.
"From a security health point of view, I think it is a better idea to have re-usable kit and also have short supply lines."