Interior Health considers contracting out dirty laundry; 16 FTE's could be lost at KLH
Interior Health announced Wednesday a decision to explore options in regards to the future services in the 11 laundry sites — including Kootenay Lake Hospital — due to higher costs and aging infrastructure.
No decisions have been made at this time, but IH said they have started the process that included informing Hospital Employees’ Union regarding the future of laundry services.
“We have started the 90-day period with the union,” said Lori Holloway, Regional Director and Facilities Manager.
“Nothing can be done until the time frame has expired but we’re exploring if there are alternatives to going to the private market.”
IH said about $10 million per year is spent on laundry operation. However the equipment and infrastructure is aging and is in dire need of modernization.
Instead of using money to upgrade facilities, IH would rather place priority on the most pressing patient care needs such as medical equipment and development of new or upgraded patient care spaces.
“We’re going to issue a Request for Qualifications for laundry services,” Holloway said. “This will provide early indication of market interest and allow Interior Health to gather information while it consults with the HEU.”
IH said this option of contracting out laundry services has been investigated before but it was decided to keep the operations an in-house service.
However, the challenge today is not the same.
Before it was about efficiency of operations and laundry services staff stepped up and addressed those concerns.
The challenge now is finding the capital dollars required to sustain and upgrade aging infrastructure.
Interior Health currently operates five large (regional) and six small laundry sites and all together has approximately 175 employees representing 100 full-time equivalent positions.
Kootenay Lake Hospital laundry services, which staffs 16 full-time equivalent positions, processes laundry for all West Kootenay hospitals, including facilities in Trail, Castlegar, Grand Forks, Kaslo, New Denver and Nakusp.
IH said it’s important to be clear this process is in its early stage and the final outcome is not known.
The Nelson Daily attempted to contact a representative at the Hospital Employees’ Union.
However, HEU spokesperson Cheryl Rankin was unavailable for comment.