NEW YORK — Superstorm Sandy flooded and crippled numerous hospital and hotel laundry operations when it struck the Northeast in late October.
Emergency preparedness planning made all the difference for the Hospital Central Services Cooperative (HCSC) Laundry, which consists of five plants and processes approximately 110 million pounds of linen for some 350 healthcare facilities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. The town of Asbury Park, N.J., where the laundry has its headquarters, was evacuated before the storm struck. The laundry lost power for a week.
“This was an unprecedented situation for us,” says Bill Moyer, vice president of Marketing Services for HCSC. “We had never had a plant out of service for a week. It was a worst-case scenario.”
HCSC management put its emergency preparedness plan into effect days before the storm struck, says Moyer. Linen conservation alerts were sent out to all healthcare linen customers, as they share a common linen inventory. Linen orders were escalated and prepared a day ahead of time. Linen volume was shared and produced by the laundry’s sister plants in Camden, N.J., Allentown, Pa., and Baltimore, Md. The laundry’s service suffered only “minimal” disruption, according to Moyer.
“The storm presented a logistical nightmare,” he says. “This was as bad as it gets. Fortunately, our other plants stepped up and picked up the slack. It took a tremendous amount of planning, a high level of teamwork and cooperation, and a good deal of patience by everyone concerned.”
He continues, “I can’t say enough about the importance of having backup capability in your system during a storm. I don’t know what we would’ve done without it. During the storm, our hospitals absorbed more patients who were evacuated from nursing homes. Their censuses were up.”
In the aftermath of the storm, some manufacturers and distributors of laundry machinery announced programs aimed at helping laundries replace equipment destroyed by Sandy.
Alliance Laundry Systems, Laundrylux and Dexter Laundry were among the companies that announced programs offering deferred payments and interest and no fees on equipment purchases made by qualified on-premise laundries. American Dryer Corp. stepped up its production to make certain enough laundry equipment would be readily available to customers during the recovery.
Alliance’s Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief program allows owners to replace their damaged washers and dryers with no payments or interest for up to four months, no loan fees, and a cash allowance to assist with installation costs. Additionally, there is no prepayment penalty if customers choose to pay off their loan in full with reimbursement eventually received from FEMA or their insurer.
Alliance has made the program available to qualifying laundries in New York and New Jersey, but will review other situations and offer the finance program to other affected laundries on a case-by-case basis.
“The purpose of the program is to help laundries get back on their feet and start operating again, while they are sorting out their insurance claims,” says Bill Brooks, North American sales manager for UniMac, an Alliance company.
Under Laundrylux’s Disaster Recovery Program, qualified laundries purchasing Electrolux or Wascomat equipment can make no payments for up to six months and pay no interest for up to 12 months. All associated fees will be waived. The program is available in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
Dexter’s program offers qualifying laundry owners in the Hurricane Sandy-affected areas of New York and New Jersey the ability to purchase equipment for up to six months of no payments, with no origination or documentation fees, along with a special allowance for installation and start-up costs. Customers wishing to pay off their loan after recovery from their insurer or other agency will face no prepayment penalties.