CHICAGO — Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark in Lake Geneva, Wis., is a 225-suite property with a waterpark attached.
The spacious suites and kid-friendly waterpark make the property a major draw for family vacations. The amenities also mean the property produces quite a bit of soiled terry and linen products.
To process these goods, Timber Ridge uses an off-site, centralized laundry.
On the other hand, White River Health System is a rural medical facility located in Batesville, Ark., that chose to handle its healthcare laundry on-site.
Why does one business choose to use a centralized laundry service while another processes soiled goods in-house?
American Laundry News spoke with representatives from both Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark and White River Health System to get the stories behind the laundry choices made, including the positive aspects and the challenges.
In this post, White River Health System shares its laundry story.
White River Health System’s in-house Laundry Service Department provides laundry and linen services to all the facilities in the system, which includes a 235-bed medical center with 35 internal distribution locations, a 25-bed rural medical center, a rural trauma emergency facility, 36 regional specialty clinics, and two regional medical complexes.
“The White River Health System manages a very good healthcare laundry facility,” says George Latus, manager of laundry services. “By operating our own on-site laundry operation, we have total and complete control of every element and process dealing with the laundry system, and, when necessary, we can be flexible.”
Latus says that the on-premises laundry (OPL) has the ability to control the costs of linens through its group purchasing contacts. This also applies to the purchasing of chemicals and detergents.
He adds that the maintenance department provides routine inspections on the equipment that help prevent mechanical issues that may develop.
“We have the ability to manage and control our rewash,” Latus points out. “When we recognize a problem with a stain, questionable linen or process, we can investigate and correct the problem immediately. We can ensure the linen provided to our patients and all healthcare facilities within the White River Health System are clean, safe and processed with integrity and a high standard of quality.”
Another benefit Latus sees to White River Health System using an in-house laundry is the ability to secure employment opportunities for local residents.
“The success of a well-run department is attributed to quality, training and dedication of the staff,” he says. “Our distribution system works well. We are already providing an in-house courier that delivers supplies and linen to the health care clinics daily. The larger facilities have scheduled deliveries and pick-ups weekly.”
That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges for the OPL. Latus says that prior to the construction of a new laundry facility in 2011, the department was faced with obstacles that prevented it from achieving its daily goals.
“Some of the problems that were encountered dealt with machinery and equipment that was starting to age out,” he shares. “We also recognized that the washer-extractors were under-sized for the volumes of laundry that we needed to process in order to meet our daily needs. This forced the department to run two shifts per day.”
White River Health System’s current laundry operation processes more than 5,000 pounds of linen per day with a team of 13, according to Latus. The team works eight hours a day, five days a week, with a two-person in-house delivery-and-sort crew on weekends.
He says challenges for the new operation are the “minor variables” that may come up on occasion.
“Manpower and staffing will always be present due to employee illness or time away from work,” Latus says. “You may encounter problems with local utility disruption that could affect your power or water supply. It’s necessary to monitor your linen inventory to assure that you have adequate linen in the system that will provide necessary linen usage for emergency situations. Our goal is to maintain a seven-day supply on hand.”
Another situation that can arise is a machine being down for repairs, which would quickly create a backlog of unprocessed linen.
“In this situation, we would have to call a local off-site laundry service operator to assist us with our laundry needs,” Latus shares. “They always do a great job and are at the top of our list if needed for any type of laundry recovery we encounter. This is a necessary step that all laundry managers should engage. It is important to have a secondary laundry provider/facility that has the capability to provide a recovery plan that will meet or exceed the needs of your healthcare facility.”
He says that every operation or process the laundry department can control and manage provides White River Health System the ability to control the expenses and outcomes.
“It all cost nickels and dimes, but in the end, it’s all about how you manage your pennies,” Latus says.
Miss Part 1 on use of a centralized service? Click here to read it.