published Friday, January 13th, 2012

Erlanger employees are now color-coded by department and job

Registered Nurse Vi Shrum shops for scrubs in her size in the First Uniform Outlet store inside the medical mall at Erlanger. Healthcare workers on the Baroness campus of Erlanger have a new dress code to follow with scrub attire.
Registered Nurse Vi Shrum shops for scrubs in her size in the First Uniform Outlet store inside the medical mall at Erlanger. Healthcare workers on the Baroness campus of Erlanger have a new dress code to follow with scrub attire.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Erlanger Health System employees now are color-coded by department and job, according to a new professional dress code.

Since Jan. 1, all clinical staff are required to wear solid-color scrubs in a designated color, with a solid white shirt underneath, the policy states, while physicians employed by the hospital are required to wear a white coat.

The only exception to the dress policy is for employees at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital, who are allowed to wear “child friendly” designs or print tops with department-colored pants.

“We are very proud of our new dress code policy for Erlanger Health System,” Chief Nursing Executive Lynn Whisman said in an emailed statement. “Walking the corridors of Erlanger today makes me very proud. The vast majority of our staff have taken this seriously and are proud of their new look.”

Whisman said the policy has many advantages, including improving the professional appearance of staff and promoting staff morale. It also provides enhanced patient safety by allowing patients easily to identify to which department an employee belongs, she said.

Many hospitals have adopted similar policies, Whisman noted.

Memorial Health System implemented a similar dress policy on July 1 for all its clinical staff, according to spokesman Brian Lazenby.

Parkridge Health System does not have a mandatory dress policy, spokeswoman Alison Counts said. Some departments at Parkridge voluntarily adopt a certain scrubs color but it is not required, she said.

The only exception at Parkridge is the women’s services nurses at Parkridge East, who wear specialized scrubs as part of the hospital’s infant security program, Counts said.

Erlanger’s dress code was announced in October after it was developed by a group of staff and physicians and all of the health system’s departments were contacted for input.

In addition to specific designations for clinical or non-clinical staff, the policy also provides guidelines for all staff that includes:

• No print sport shirts, T-shirts (including Erlanger T-shirts), velour vests, sweatshirts, fleece jackets or hoodies

• No camouflage or denim

• No shorts

• Undergarments must be worn, must be appropriate and not visible when moving or bending

• Tattoos larger then two inches in diameter or three inches in length must be covered

Erlanger spokeswoman Pat Charles said employees were given $50 vouchers to be used at the First Uniform Outlet on Erlanger’s campus, which now carries only approved uniform colors.

Employees also were given the option of using a payroll deduction to pay for new uniform purchases over several pay periods.

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