CHICAGO — Laundry and linen service has always been about providing customers with clean linens.
But the past few years have put a spotlight on ensuring goods stay clean and hygienic.
That means keeping linens clean from the plant to the delivery trucks to the customer.
American Laundry News reached out to the Association for Linen Management (ALM) and TRSA, the association for linen, uniform and facility services, to learn more about how linen transport has changed and how operations can better ensure goods stay clean throughout the facility and through the transportation cycle.
Part 1 included insights from Mitchell Trom, route supervisor for Textile Care Services (part of the Healthcare Linen Services Group) in Rochester, Minnesota, and Sarah Brobek, the new executive director of ALM, and former E.D. Linda Fairbanks.
In the conclusion, Ken Koepper from TRSA shares what Greg Shames, operations vice president for Los Angeles-based American Textile Maintenance, says about how his company handles linen transportation.
OPERATOR LINEN TRANSPORT EXAMPLE
Los Angeles-based American Textile Maintenance (ATM) serves Southern California medical facilities from its Medico Healthcare Linen Service operations and restaurants and hotels with its Republic Master Chefs service.
Having been highly infection-prevention conscious on the healthcare side before the pandemic, the company was accustomed to taking precautions to protect employees and customers.
Management was determined to go a step above as COVID-19 settled in.
UV lighting was purchased to disinfect trucks and electronic logging of disinfection procedures began. Drivers were offered more PPE, the same they would use if they worked in the soil department, not just to meet customer requirements, but to maximize their comfort.
While they may not be required to wear masks today, they are encouraged to take whatever additional precautions they want, Shames says.
For example, Medico runs operations seven days a week, and drivers often don’t use the same truck each day. This encourages sanitizing before and after running a route.
Post-route cleaning has always been required; COVID has persuaded more pre-sanitizing.
“Although the previous driver is responsible for disinfection, there’s no better way to be satisfied with a truck’s cleanliness than to sanitize it yourself before you start your route,” Shames observes.
Ultimately ATM wants to ensure “our team members want to do the job day in and day out,” he says, which requires management to listen to their hygiene concerns as well as their customers’ concerns.
Such concerns are often aligned. If a driver is particularly cautious, customers don’t mind. Some had requested isolation gowns or additional PPE, so they were provided with extra sets to maximize their comfort with transporting soil.
Throughout ATM’s laundry and service operations, for all healthcare and hospitality industries served, “we’re in a better place in terms of additional emphasis on ensuring we don’t let our guard down.”
The company has long scrutinized its procedures that affect how well clean items reach end users, “from machine to customer,” says Shames.
The decision to brand Medico separately from Republic in the 1970s reflected the company’s recognition that hygiene standards are integral to customer confidence and employee protection.
In 2020, COVID gave everyone a scare and reminded ATM that dedication to its rules for cleanliness could never be deviated from, only improved.
“It’s important to make sure all your equipment is clean and in good working order,” Trom shares. “No sharp edges on the carts that might cause a cut. No bad wheels that might cause a tip-over.
“It’s important to make sure the customers are using the carts for laundry, and not using the laundry carts for hauling garbage or construction debris. It’s all about good training and good maintenance.”
Finally, Brobeck and Fairbanks say, “This is an excellent opportunity for laundries and hospitals to work together to ensure that the hygienically clean textiles processed at the laundry are received, stored and delivered in that same manner to the patient bedside.”
Read the Q&A in Part 1 with an operator and an association by clicking HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].