In otherwise normal times, hospitals generate more than 5 million tons of waste each year, according to Greenhealth. Personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply over the past two years, and it was widely reported that some had to reuse what is typically a single-use item, like surgical gowns.
MEDU, a Mexico-based startup, wants to reduce that waste and replace single-wear medical garments through the creation of a line of sustainable, virus-resistant reusable pieces, including surgical gowns, head coverings and full-body suits.
The company was started in 2020 by CEO Tamara Chayo, a chemist and Thiel Fellow, who had family in the medical and textile industries and saw firsthand the need for PPE. She and her team began investigating fabrics to see which had the ability to capture viruses, and when they began getting positive test results from the lab, they formed MEDU.
The products are made with fabric that is certified level 4 AAMI PB70, the highest fluid and microbial barrier protection, providing maximum protection against particles, viruses and bacteria, she told TechCrunch.
The company started trials in Mexican hospitals, buoyed by an initial $400,000 investment, to test and certify the results and see if doctors liked wearing the products.