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Proper Finishing and End-User Perception, Satisfaction (Conclusion)

Overcoming challenges, proper processes, expert advice

CHICAGO — Proper washing of linens is vital to provide end-users clean, hygienic goods.

However, the value of excellent finishing can’t be overlooked to provide linens with the feel and look that convinces customers their goods are truly clean and ready for use.

American Laundry News spoke with two experts in the hotel and healthcare laundry markets—Nick Fertig, director of central laundry, Rosen Hotels and Resorts, Orlando, and Randy Bartsch, chairman and CEO of both Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service in Seattle and the Healthcare Linen Alliance (HLA)—to learn more about how to give linens a finish with a flourish to please end-users.

In part 1, Fertig and Bartsch shared about the value of appearance and feel to end-users and how to assure a quality finish. In the conclusion, they cover overcoming issues and challenges, proper processes and offer final thoughts.

What are some ways laundries in your market fall short in finishing, and how can those issues be fixed?

FERTIG: The biggest issue that I see, is over-drying. This can easily be corrected by partnering with your chemical and equipment vendors.

There are optimal moisture levels that the product should be at as it exits the wash cycle. Ensuring your linens are hitting this mark prior to processing is key.

BARTSCH: There is a lot of cost pressure on the healthcare laundry sector. Some operators misprice or misjudge the scope of work they signed on for and feel that they need to cut corners. This never ends well over the long term.

We operate under the theory that if you can’t afford to do it right the first time, how can you afford to do it over? Quality assurance programs and proper equipment maintenance are key to providing good finishing outcomes in your plant.

Describe the challenges you face in properly finishing goods for end-user satisfaction. How have you overcome those challenges?

FERTIG: We have two challenges in our facility: robes and table linens. 

Robes are an incredibly hard product to process. They are typically heavy, so a lot cannot be processed at once and once washed they have long dry times. If left to sit in a metro overnight, you will return to a cart full of wrinkles. 

In order to eliminate this challenge, we wash robes at the start of the shift and ensure that they are all hung by the time the shift ends. We also purchased a small steam tunnel to assist with our finishing quality.

One production killer is 132-inch round table linen. The most crucial part of processing table linen like this is proper feeding into the ironer. It takes multiple highly trained associates to feed this linen properly. Any misstep and your quality is ruined. 

Ensuring your associates are properly trained is the only way to combat this challenge. Unfortunately, there is no easy and fast way to process these items. 

BARTSCH: It is important for us to maintain process integrity to assure that the linens and textiles we provide maintain the clean, bright white and fresh appearance we are committed to.

Has the past year changed the importance of finishing on laundered goods? How has it changed and why?

FERTIG: Honestly, COVID did not have a large impact on the way we clean our linens. We were already utilizing the best chemicals and formulas available to ensure our linens are hygienically clean. We have our linens tested regularly to ensure we are in compliance. 

The job of the laundry has always been to produce impeccable linens so that we can exceed our guests’ expectations. This will never change.

BARTSCH: The pandemic has caused us all to be hypervigilant about our surroundings and the environment in which we find ourselves, and with good reason. The big question we have been asking ourselves is am I safe? Are my friends, family and loved ones safe?

We have never been more aware about things, like the SARS CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. We can’t see it, taste it, smell it, but we know we need to be extra careful. That care and attention is amplified in a hospital or medical clinic setting.

As healthcare laundry and linen service professionals, we have an obligation to be using the industry’s best knowledge and management practices to protect clinicians, frontline care providers, support workers and patients. 

What would an optimal finishing process look like in your market? What does the process look like for your company?

 BARTSCH: In all the markets we serve, our goal for optimal finishing standards are linens and textiles that are clean, bright white and fresh in appearance.

Linen carts are neatly presented with good-looking stacks of folded sheets and towels, and linen that looks consistent to the eye of hospital employees and patients, day-in, day-out.

What other advice/thoughts do you have about the importance of proper finishing?

FERTIG: The replacement of old linen, linen par levels and rotation of product are paramount. Linen does not last forever. There are things we can do to extend its life, but ultimately linen must be discarded. 

Linen must be rotated. We typically operate our properties with a 3.5 par. This means that we have enough linen to fill every room 3.5 times. One par is in the room. Another par is stored in linen closets. The last par is at laundry being processed.

Each par should be cycled giving linens ample time to rest between use and processing. If linen levels are too low or if product is not rotated, operations will be placing the just cleaned sheet right back onto a bed. 

Operating like this guarantees that your linen will wear out faster and your quality will be hit. 

BARTSCH: We feel it is important to remember that the true “end-users” of our linens and textiles are patients and their families who are in the hospital for care.

If our team can work together with the hospitals and clinics we serve to provide patients with a safe, comfortable environment we will improve the experience and as a result their medical outcomes. 

If we can all keep that top of mind, we can help improve people’s lives.    

Miss Part 1 on the value of appearance, feel to end-users and assuring a quality finish? Click HERE to read it!