ROANOKE, Va. — Last time, I discussed the need to establish par levels based on peak day usage for each using area and finding textile storage areas for each using area that holds the required inventory.
The next key for excellent textile distribution is a periodic closet check to ensure that the closet has been properly restocked and textiles are left in a neat and orderly manner.
This check should be performed within 15 minutes after the closet has been restocked; all textile items should be re-inventoried and compared with the expected stocking level. No textile item should be stocked above the maximum level. All linen items should be neatly stacked on the shelves. Textile items should be close to their desired stocking levels.
Failure to periodically conduct after-delivery audits of textile closets will encourage the staff to underfill or overfill the unit and deliver more of an item that is in ready supply in place of one that is in short supply. Keeping a proper mix of linen items available in the main textile-distribution area is a real key.
Textile users have been known to create alternate storage locations for textile products if they believe in their mind that the textile supply is not dependable. Again, their major concern is that the patients that they are responsible for have the textile product they need.
They are not looking out for the unit as a whole, or even for all the patients on a particular wing, but only for those patients for which they are responsible.
As such, these alternate textile storage areas are creative, and only known to that one person. It is amazing how many textile products a nursing staff can place into alternative storage areas when they feel it is needed. It can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I do not believe that the textile distribution system can deliver my unit all the products it needs; we therefore take linen out of the linen room and move it to our alternative storage areas where it is to be used only in the case of an emergency.” So many textile products are moved to alternative storage that it creates a shortage that reinforces the behavior.
The only way to stop textile users from filling private alternative spots is to deliver linen perfectly for nine months. Once the problem starts, it is very difficult to stop.
Sometimes, the textile distribution personnel do not have sufficient linens to deliver to the end-users because of problems experienced at the laundry facility. Even the best laundry will run into mechanical or staff problems that cause shortages of some textile products.
The key is for laundry management to make sure these cases are rare and do not happen often. When they do happen, the distribution staff needs to be proactive and let the using areas know what is happening. They need to move textile products from area to area to make sure each piece is used as effectively as it can be. They need to pass on the when and why of the problem and the expected return to normal service.
Communication will aid in getting through the problem.