Dr. Karen Lee (left) and certified dental assistant Lana Healey model the surgical gowns made by burlesque star Judith Stein for Dr. Matthew Osepchook’s office. Photo: Tyler Harper

Practical fashion: Local designers make supplies for Nelson dentists

Surgical caps and gowns have been in short supply for dentists during the pandemic

Judith Stein is used to making dresses that seduce the senses and tease an audience.

Some well-placed sparkles, perhaps a sultry slit along the leg, accessorized with a fluffy boa to wave on a stage. Stein, who has performed for over 40 years as the Canadian Legend of Burlesque, needs an outfit to make a statement.

So when she was asked to make surgery gowns for a Nelson dental office, Stein faced an unexpected problem.

“They are boring as hell,” she says.

What Stein’s gowns lack in aesthetic they make up for in practicality. Dana McKernan, who works at Dr. Matthew Osepchook’s office, says the COVID-19 pandemic has made finding supplies like gloves, face shields and gowns difficult.

Seven staff members at the office use the approximately 30 gowns Stein has made for surgeries, some fillings and procedures that require aerosols.

“We take it off after each person and we’ve got ourselves a washer and dryer now,” says McKernan. “So we’re washing our own gowns so we don’t have to dispose of them.”

The dentists started turning to local solutions following a conversation between McKernan and one of the office’s patients, Liz Cohoe.

Cohoe, a longtime fashion designer, makes luxury hats for her business Lillie and Cohoe. But scrub caps, which she’s made for Osepchook’s staff, were a new challenge.

When she first began making the caps, for example, Cohoe realized she using the wrong fabric. Her own hats, which are sold across Canada and the United States, aren’t supposed to be washed as frequently as scrub caps.

“We think about care of a hat, but not regular washing machine dryer every second day,” she says.

But because design is in her bones, Cohoe couldn’t help but find creative leeway. Bouffant caps for staff with longer hair, for example, looked like shower caps, which she describes as unpleasant.

“I made one and then I did some improvements so that it would fit better and sit on the head better and I felt looked better,” says Cohoe. “So I was able to play with it a little bit, which is what I like to do.”

Cohoe has already begun to see a business potential in the caps. She said she has plans to pitch them to other dental offices, and is also considering selling them on her website as housecleaning hats.

Stein meanwhile became involved after Cohoe was asked by McKernan if she knew anyone who could supply gowns. Stein earns her living performing in burlesque shows, and also runs a side business making Victorian-inspired night gowns.

But the pandemic has put her burlesque work on hiatus. “So I’m just sitting here and plunking away on the old Singer sewing machine,” she says.

Stein’s surgical gowns run from neck to calf, with cuffed sleeves so gloves can fit over the fabric, velcro in the back and a tie around the side. She’s already made 50 to 60 gowns for Osepchook’s staff and another dental office in town.

She’s also so far resisted the temptation to add a little flair to the gowns.

“There was part of me that said, ‘I really should stick a rhinestone on these.’ But I haven’t.”

Not yet anyway.

Related:

VIDEO: International stars to perform at Kootenay Burlesque Festival

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFashion and Style

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDCK reduces number of properties under evacuation alert from Talbott Creek Fire to 46

Improved visibility has allowed helicopters to resume water suppression efforts on fire

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Kootenay teachers’ union going to labour relations board over COVID-19 related work conditions

Union issues open letter to premier, education minister, health minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Two men killed in Hwy 3 collision west of Castlegar

The single-vehicle incident happened Thursday morning

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

16 COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health region

One person is in hospital and 34 people are isolating

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Missing Lardeau man not found, underwater search called off

Thomas Schreiber was last seen on Sept. 15

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read