Many of us are aware of the main departments of a hospital; A&E, cardiology, minor injuries, paediatrics, to name but a mere few. And we’re well aware of places like the waiting rooms, the canteens and the relatives’ rooms. But have you ever given much thought to some of the service departments within a hospital that help to keep things running as smoothly as possible?
The hospital laundry room is one such service that plays an essential role in daily hospital life. Just think about all the sheets, blankets, gowns, scrubs and towels that are used every single day, and then there are all of the uniforms too. It sure makes your household washing pile pale into insignificance!
This article looks at some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration when setting up a hospital laundry room. So if you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, read on…
Making The Best Use Of The Space
Like any room that has a lot going on in it, it is important to utilize the space in such a way that it not only makes the laundering process as efficient as possible but that can also be done in a safe and hazard free way. The hospital laundry room will be filled with lots of machines – it will be noisy and hectic and there will be lots going on pretty much 24-7 – and the footfall of people coming in and out is likely to be high. Laundry items need to be washed, dried, pressed, repaired, folded, sorted and then collected and redistributed, so there is a lot going on, and the more organised and well planned the room the better these processes will run.
If you’re renovating a pre-existing laundry room and already have the equipment in situ, measuring the space might not be the easiest task. Which is why using a laser measurement sensor that can take accurate measurements regardless of any obstacles in its way, will mean the entire room can stay as it is for the initial planning stages. The National Association of Institutional Linen Management suggest that for every pound of laundry you should allocate 1.2 square feet of space. Within that space 50% of it should be for equipment, 20% for the storage of soiled laundry, 10% storage of clean linen, and the remaining 20% should be for support areas such as boilers, air compressors, janitorial, water softeners, hot water or solar water tank etc.
Cleanliness Is Crucial
Cleanliness has become even more important since the arrival of COVID, however in a hospital laundry room this has always been taken very seriously. Healthcare linen differs to standard laundry in that it is often soiled with blood and other potentially infectious substances. There is also a risk that needles or other sharp implements may have got entangled in the laundry and so it must be handled with extreme care. Laundry staff should be dressed appropriately and have the relevant PPE to not only ensure their own personal protection, but also of their fellow workers and most importantly the vulnerable hospital patients who will be receiving the clean linen.
Soiled laundry must be kept completely separate to clean linen to avoid the risk of cross contamination. Specialist barrier machines also help to keep the germs from soiled goods away from clean items, as well as the use of industry standard chemicals and the correct water temperature. The National Infection Control Standards states that all garments should be washed at a minimum temperature of 65°C, which is higher than a standard clothes wash you would do at home.
Another thing to consider are surfaces. These must be regularly cleaned and should ideally have a smooth surface to make the cleaning process easier. Floor drainage is also a good idea and again floors should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly.
As mentioned above, the safety of your laundry services team is a prime consideration and especially with the corona virus pandemic still raging. Staff should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly and this is even more important if they are switching between handling dirty and then clean linen. Hand wash stations will help to enforce this practice and it would be good to also have suitable waste disposal for used PPE.
Employ A Good Team Of People
Whether you have an in house hospital laundry room team or you opt for contracting the work out to a larger central laundry company will depend on whether the hospital has its own facilities as well as the budget for paying a dedicated laundry staff. The importance of laundry staff really cannot be underestimated; they are the cogs in the cleaning wheel if you like and making sure you have a solid team is crucial.
You will also need supervisors to run the team as well as a linen services manager to recruit and train new staff, control budgets and arrange staff rotas. It is also the linen services manager’s duty to ensure that all laundry services meet quality standards. Finding and recruiting the right people for the job needn’t be difficult, especially if you have a solid well-performing website to advertise for such job roles and to explain exactly what is involved and how the whole operation works. Companies such as Ignitedigital.com can help with SEO services to get your website ranking well and that will result in a wider pool of people visiting your site and hopefully bring you the best people for the job.
Clean linen is such an important part of healthcare and dealing with the massive volume of daily laundry is no mean feat. The hospital laundry room is a central hub for helping a hospital to function safely, efficiently and to the highest of standards.