Hospitals and commercial laundry services have formed a sort of alliance over the last several decades. For their part, hospitals have come to depend on us for linens, towels, and uniforms. Those of us who are commercial laundry service providers have been able to use the business generated by the hospital sector to grow and expand. In short, we rely on one another.
Unfortunately, for hospitals, they rely more on us. That was apparent when a major linen services company based in New Hampshire closed in late June. In closing with less than two weeks’ notice, the company left its healthcare clients in the lurch.
Hospitals throughout Vermont and New Hampshire discussed the problem among themselves and decided that each facility finding a new linen provider was the best way to go. In the interim, they had to find another way to get their bed linens clean.
Some of the hospitals turned to renting portable laundry facilities. They paid staff to work extra hours to wash bed linens and towels. Such an arrangement certainly isn’t ideal, but you do what you must when your provider shuts its doors unexpectedly.
While some of the affected hospitals have found new providers, none of them seem all that happy with the higher prices they must now pay. That disappointment is understandable, but processing hospital laundry isn’t cheap. That could be one of the reasons why the New Hampshire Company closed.
What has happened in Vermont and New Hampshire clearly shows that hospitals depend on our industry more than ever. It only takes a slight disruption in the supply chain to change everything. Moreover, the need for hygienically clean healthcare linens and uniforms makes it that much more important for hospitals to have reliable service providers in place.
It is no longer enough to get healthcare linens and uniforms visibly clean. With the rise of the bacteria MRSA and other harmful pathogens in hospitals, patient safety now requires hygienically clean healthcare textiles. These are linens and uniforms free of bacteria, viruses and other threatening pathogens.
If a hospital is forced to temporarily rent laundry facilities to make up for the loss of a linen services provider, hygienically clean linens may go out the window, which is not good. In addition, what if the new linen service that eventually picks up the hospital’s contract does not produce hygienically clean healthcare linens?
We are thrilled to be able to say that our industry now has a standard for hygienically clean linens and uniforms. We are also proud to say that Alsco was a key participant in developing those standards.Since their adoption, all our plants, systems and products meet or exceed government guidelines for hygienically clean healthcare textiles.
Hygienically clean linens and uniforms help to reduce the spread of sickness in hospitals. They give patients greater peace of mind. They allow hospital staff to focus their attention on other ways to combat pathogens, knowing that their linens and uniforms are being handled by a company like Alsco.
If a hospital is forced to temporarily rent laundry facilities to make up for the loss of a linen services provider, hygienically clean linens may go out the window, which is not good. Moreover, what if the new linen service that eventually picks up the hospital’s contract does not produce hygienically clean healthcare linens?
The events that transpired in Vermont and New Hampshire are unfortunate. Affected hospitals should be back online with reliable linen providers in short order. And hopefully those new providers will be capable of delivering hygienically clean linens. In the meantime, the events make it clear just how much hospitals rely on our commercial laundry services industry.
As partners, the healthcare and commercial laundry services sectors can work together to make things even better. We can find ways to make the process of cleaning hospital linens and uniforms more efficient and cost effective. We can use the hygienically clean government standard as a foundation for finding other ways to make hospital environments even safer.