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HLAC-Accredited Plants Number 75 and Rising (Part 1 of 2)

Bruce Beggs |

BATAVIA, Ill. — Superior Health Linens’ brand-new plant here is the latest facility to seek accreditation by the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC), a non-profit organization that determines by inspection if applicant laundries meet or exceed high standards for processing healthcare textiles.
HLAC has accredited 75 laundries nationally — including Superior’s Wisconsin plants in Madison and Milwaukee suburb Cudahy — since it was formed in 2005. So, the process isn’t exactly new to Scott Reppert, Superior’s president/CEO, and others in his company, but it can still create anxiety as the Batavia plant prepares to go under the proverbial microscope.
“There are 51 documents that need to be on file that the inspector may look at,” says Kathy Tinker, HLAC’s executive director. “The documentation preparation does create some angst for laundries that are preparing, especially laundries that are small and have a small staff.”
“Angst is the right word,” Reppert says. “But it’s not so much that it’s hard. It’s just detailed.”American Laundry News visited the plant west of Chicago in late July, after it had been in operation for only four weeks. Reppert and other Superior Health Linens officials, as well as Kathy Tinker and Steve Tinker, HLAC’s Advisory Committee chairman and Kathy’s husband, discussed the merits of HLAC accreditation and how Superior was preparing for its inspection slated for this month.ACCREDITATION PROCESS IS VOLUNTARY
Once a facility applies and submits a deposit, HLAC schedules a mutually agreeable inspection date. It sends pre-inspection information, including a list of documents to be reviewed. The balance of the fee is due before the inspection takes place.
HLAC’s five inspectors have been approved by its Board of Directors, which includes representatives from several textile care and healthcare organizations. The inspectors sign a “Code of Conduct” acknowledging that they may not already be consultants to or affiliated with the laundry to be inspected, nor may they use the process to arrange future work with the laundry.
An inspection takes a full day and includes a review of written documents; a walkthrough and visual inspection of the facility; employee and management interviews; and more.
The inspector uses a checklist that closely follows the Accreditation Standards for Processing Reusable Textiles for Use in Healthcare Facilitiespublished on the HLAC website, www.hlacnet.org.
These standards focus on a number of aspects of the laundry, with the ultimate goal being the protection of clean textiles from soiled textiles at all times during processing.
The inspector looks from floor to ceiling and everywhere in between to view where and how soiled and clean textiles are moved throughout the building to ensure they never cross paths.
When finished, the inspector briefs management and highlights positive aspects as well as items that require improvement. The accreditation decision, however, is made by the HLAC Inspection Committee after scoring the inspector’s full report.
Plants that don’t meet the necessary criteria to be accredited are given time to correct discrepancies and be re-examined, and there is an appeals process for laundries that don’t receive accreditation.
A 15-page User Guide that includes tips, ideas, clarification and suggestions on how to address some of the more commonly asked questions is made available to applicants, Kathy Tinker says. The content was developed with input from HLAC inspectors, accredited laundries, those preparing for accreditation, and HLAC board members.
“We want this to be a positive experience,” Tinker says. “We’re not here to punish any laundry for doing anything wrong. The idea was to raise standards for the whole industry. We view ourselves as partners to make sure that it’s a good experience, as well as improving the entire industry.”
HLAC announces a laundry’s accreditation by letter to nearby hospitals, provides a marketing kit to the laundry, and can link the laundry’s website to HLAC’s site for greater exposure.
Accreditation is good for three years, at which time a laundry must be re-inspected to remain accredited.Come back Friday for Part 2 of this story!
 

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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