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Meet Our 2007 Panel of Experts (Part 1 of 3)

HOTEL/MOTEL LAUNDERING: Neil MacDonald has managed the laundry at the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club since the property opened in 1995. His other experience includes managing laundries at the Ihilani Resort & Spa on Oahu, the Westin Century Plaza Hotel and the Westin Kauai Resort.
I’m the laundry Manager at the beautiful Kauai Marriott Resort, located on the northernmost inhabited island in the Hawaiian Islands. It’s a mixed-use resort, first of its kind. Hotel and time-share complexes coexist in peace and harmony, sharing all services: food-and-beverage, housekeeping, laundry, accounting, etc.
I’m very lucky, as laundry doesn’t fall under the housekeeping department’s roof. I answer to the director of operations.
The operations manager (a former laundry manager) told me when I was hired that he didn’t want the laundry department to be considered the ugly stepchild of housekeeping. What a concept. It works out very well, thank you, not only for me but the morale of the department. I’m in charge of all uniform and linen purchases.
There are 356 hotel rooms and 242 time-share villas here at the Marriott. We also process for two outside accounts: a 240-room time-share and a 350-room hotel. Our laundry processes more than 5 million pounds annually. The operation is semiautomated; we have a couple of towel folders, a spreader/feeder and a cross-folder.
A low unemployment rate on the island is a challenge for us. Our human resources department has gone to a system in which people seeking employment go online to apply. It’s a timely process.
Another challenge is the introduction of a new bedding package. Larger sheets, fitted sheets, 300-thread-counts, duvets, feather toppers, custom brokerage fees! The costs of these products have increased by 100%. It’s nuts! Our linen consumption line needs to be doubled; this will be a challenge for 2007.
We’ve had only one accident this year, and none in 2005. That’s a great accomplishment considering the tasks performed in a laundry, including linen delivery to three towers 10 stories high.
Another accomplishment I’m proud of is the associate engagement survey we take annually that ranks us in the top 95% in overall satisfaction. I have a great staff. Through all the changes, it’s been smooth sailing.CORRECTIONAL LAUNDERING: Nancy Greene has been laundry manager for the Kenosha County, Wis., Detention Center and Sheriff's Department for eight years. Other experience includes laundry/environmental services work with ServiceMaster, as well as in private hospitals and nursing homes.
In 2006, we averaged approximately 415 inmates at our Detention Center and 284 at our Kenosha County Jail. They included local, state and federal inmates either awaiting trial, in transition between facilities, or convicted and serving their sentence locally.
We provide them with bed linens, towels, washcloths, uniforms, underclothing, sweatshirts, sandals and deck shoes, all of which are processed here.
Our staff is comprised of inmates who have been sentenced to have work-crew privileges. They are assigned to eight-hour days, Monday through Friday, in the laundry. Our inmate level is set at 16, but we have anywhere from six to 16 on a given day. This poses a problem for production since you’re never guaranteed a certain number.
Our inmates may stay for eight days or up to a year or more. It’s not uncommon for our inmates to leave before we’ve finished training them, and only one or two inmates remain with us for six months. Training and cross-training is an ongoing process, and inmates who show skills that are needed for particular job functions move up rather quickly.
An additional challenge is damage to the linens, either through abuse by inmates or overuse. Our sewing department repaired more than $72,000 in damaged textiles during 2005, keeping taxpayer costs down.
Unfortunately, with so many inmates being moved in and out of both buildings, we’re seeing our textiles wear out more quickly.
Inmates receive a set amount of clothing, bed linens and other textiles. Restoring them to aesthetically pleasing condition without wearing out the fibers through processing becomes more difficult over time.HEALTHCARE LAUNDERING: Earl Carter is the director of central laundry for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, serving five hospitals, four outpatient surgery centers, two health and fitness centers, and 12 family care centers. His career began in 1972 as a route operator for National Linen Service.
I started my career in the laundry business working for the “old” National Linen Service in Jackson, Miss., in May 1972. I started out as a route operator and moved into night loading supervisor. From there, I moved into production supervision, garment manager, salesman, soiled-linen supervisor and then into production management.
I spent fifteen years in the Jackson branch, processing 17 million pounds annually, and a year in the Florence, Ala., branch as production manager, processing 20 million pounds annually.
At that time, the commercial laundry industry was a labor-intensive operation. I started looking at other laundry operations because of the long hours, high staff turnover and an “easier way of life.”
In 1988, I had the opportunity to move into the healthcare laundry industry, working for Methodist Medical Center, a division of Methodist Healthcare out of Memphis, Tenn. I worked as director of laundry services for 10 years, processing 2.5 million to 3.5 million pounds annually.
Methodist Medical Center made the decision to pull out of Jackson in 1998.
Just prior to this, I was given the opportunity to work for the University of Mississippi Medical Center as its director of laundry and linen services. We processed 3.5 million pounds annually and served three locations, all of which were a part of UMMC.
While attending a laundry educational conference in Brentwood, Tenn., I met a vice president of support services from FirstHealth of the Carolinas in Pinehurst, N.C., who was recruiting to build, open and manage its new laundry.
On April 1, 1999, I went to work for FirstHealth as its director of central laundry. My first priority was to get the laundry built and opened on schedule on Oct. 1 of that year.
We built to process 5.2 million pounds annually, operating eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. In spite of the numerous problems and challenges that go along with building and opening any new facility, we did manage to open on schedule.
We opened processing linens only for our “mother hospital,” Moore Regional Hospital, at 2.2 million pounds. We’ve continued to add facilities each year and our current operation does 4.5 million pounds annually.
We utilize a 10-pocket continuous-batch washer, two 160-pound washer-extractors, four 230-pound gas-fired dryers and two 180-pound gas-fired dryers. The laundry employs three delivery drivers, three linen stewards, a maintenance man, a secretary, 24 production employees and me.
One of our great accomplishments during 2006 was “slowing down” the number of foreign objects (sharps, surgical instruments, TV remotes and patient personal items) that we had coming in through the soiled linen.
On a monthly basis, I put together a 5-foot by 4-foot board displaying all the objects that we’d collected for that month. I’d take the board to the various meetings, showing all of the staff the things we were dealing with when separating the soiled linen.
I worked with the nurse manager’s council, nursing units, safety committee, infection control and security department on a monthly basis, explaining to all the jeopardy “they” were putting my staff in, along with the expensive equipment repair the surgical instruments had caused. Surgical tongs punctured the press bladder, costing us $2,800.
One year later, we’ve cut the amount of foreign objects coming into the laundry by 68%.
With the cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and private insurance companies, along with the ever-increasing cost of healthcare technology, a major issue I’m sure we’ll all experience this year is to make budget and to remain an asset, not a burden, to our organization.
We’ll all have to come up with innovative ways to increase productivity, cut spending and ensure our organizations receive the best patient-care linens possible at the most economical cost.
 

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