The current pandemic has created a renewed emphasis on obtaining a higher level of clean. In a Fortune feature on the pandemic and the cleaning industry, Tim Mulrooney, a commercial services equities analyst for William Blair, emphasized how this could have a ‘secular tailwind’ for commercial cleaning, “Everyone from corporations to private individuals now have a heightened focus on hygiene. In fact, a ZenBusiness outlook for the cleaning industry showed that residential and commercial cleaning services are growing at an annual growth rate of 6.2%, and will top $74 million by 2022. This bodes well for the industry.
The renewed focus on clean linen and fabrics has led many to look for better cleaning solution . And Christophe Sisternas, vice president of Primus International Marketing explains that professional laundries should invest in machines that blend technology, flexible programming and industrial reliability to “secure a better and more hygienic wash performance.”
Nowhere is this renewed focus more important than the cleaning and laundry services for healthcare facilities.
One of the best ways to stop cross-contamination is to implement a hygienic laundry that follows RABC Standards (RABC stands for Risk Analysis Bio contamination Control, described in the European standard EN 14065). With this logic, you will want to separate soiled and clean linen in two different rooms, implementing hygienic barrier washers that will safely connect the two areas, thanks to doors for loading and unloading on each side of the wall. A monitoring system will provide data on wash cycles, time and chemical dosing to ensure loads were properly processed and emerge sanitized. You can learn more about the RABC laundry process in this video.
Laundry managers must also consider the people who work in these facilities. Proper training and open communication on any process changes are non-negotiable. Staff must understand not just what processes must be followed, but the dangers that cutting corners can have for patients and other staff as well. Proper collecting and sorting linens are important first steps in the process and should not be overlooked
Each country has set their own guidelines for dealing with linen that has come into contact with COVID-19 patients. For instance, Australia has a strict framework regarding how their healthcare facilities should deal with linen that has been in contact with people who are suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19. The first step is putting it in an alginate bag before putting it in a laundry receptacle. The handler should have a long-sleeved fluid-resistant gown and wear disposable gloves while dealing with these linens. While there is an influx of these kinds of linens, the number of patients has actually decreased due to hospitals temporarily not accepting most patients that have not tested positive for the virus.
However, as Dave Fox, general manager of the Texas Medical Center laundry, points out: “Every day we have to practice what’s known in the industry as universal precautions. We assume everything is contaminated with something. Our laundry processes are designed to remove all pathogens.”
With strict protocols in place, both inside and outside the healthcare sector, there are also penalties for those who fail to comply. In the U.S., there are penalties for the failure to report COVID-19 cases. Long-term care facilities are required to report results weekly, and not doing so will result in increasing fines per occurrence of non-compliance. If the battle against COVID-19 is to be won, then it must be fought at all levels of healthcare.
This is why in these difficult times cleaning and laundry workers must be considered as important as patients and medical staff, and action must be taken to better protect them. Without good healthcare laundry the battle against the virus will be much harder. Those who do this job are the unsung heroes of this pandemic and should be recognised.
Written by Jackie Blanca
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