OSHKOSH, Wis.— After outsourcing hospital laundry since 1950, Clara Barton Hospital, in Hoisington, Kan., brought laundry processing in house for a $350,000 drop in annual costs.
“I knew we were getting gouged, but I had no idea by how much,” said Clara Barton Hospital CEO Jim Blackwell. Blackwell, who studied the laundry process for several years before diving in. “We didn’t have any square footage internally to take it in house without adding bricks and mortar,” he said.
In 2013, that changed. Clara Barton Hospital added a new physical therapy wing, and with the expanded square footage, added an on-premise laundry. Blackwell worked in concert on the project with the hospital’s architect and Brian Asher, of Commercial Laundry Sales & Service (CLS&S), in Wichita, Kan.
“The hospital had been paying a linen company in the neighborhood of $3 per pound,” said Asher. “We forecasted that by bringing the laundry in house, their cost of doing laundry would drop to 55 cents per pound, which included the cost of labor, utilities, equipment, financing, linen replacement and chemicals.”
Asher installed Continental soft-mount washers and dryers. The soft-mount E-Series Washers (one 55-, one 30-, and one 20-pound capacity models) are freestanding, feature a flexible control, and generate speeds up to 387 G-force. Three Continental Pro-Series II Dryers (two 35- and one 55-pound capacity models) round out the equipment mix.
“We could have poured a thicker concrete pad to accommodate hard-mount washers, but it made sense to go with the soft-mount washers for ease of installation; higher G-force extract speeds; and maximized productivity, efficiency and labor savings,” said Asher.
When developing the on-premise laundry, adhering to state and federal health standards was paramount. “We ensured there was no cross contamination,” said Blackwell. “Soiled laundry coming in is completely separate from clean laundry going out.” Other requirements include a 25-minute bath time at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. “An optional temperature boost on the washers allows them to reach state and federal sanitation standards,” added Asher. “Because of the 25-minute bath time, wash cycles are close to 50 minutes.”
Asher, who also provides the hospital with cleaning chemicals, set up individual wash programs for items like blankets, gowns, sheets, towels, bed pads, scrubs and rags. “It’s really easy,” added Blackwell. “Our laundry operator just enters a program number and presses start.”
Once washed, items are dried in programmable Pro-Series II Dryers. The dryers moisture sensing system ensures that items are not over-dried, according to Blackwell. Thanks to this moisture sensing system, dry goods experience less damage and fiber loss, according to Asher.
Clara Barton Hospital now enjoys complete control over laundry quality, inventory and production and they are on track to save $1.75 million over five years. “The cost savings is impressive, but I’m equally ecstatic about the quality of the product and inventory we have on hand,” said Blackwell.
PHOTO CAPTION: Brian Asher (l), Jim Blackwell (rt)