TRSA - Tackling the Penny-Wise
Luke says it’s up to commercial laundry representatives to make the process go smoothly, and to show what added-value their company can bring.
“Show respect for the time of the executive. Look at all the problems they face daily. They only want to make one phone call. You can become that go-to person,” he says. For example, “If you’re providing gloves, gowns for a specific type of procedure, I need you to be the expert on every aspect of that procedure. I need to you to come educate me. You are in the position, you are the expert in the space where you sell this particular product.” Scott Delin, vice president, sales, for Fashion Seal Healthcare, a division of the Superior Uniform Group of Companies, Seminole, FL, lists several ways that laundries provide value to healthcare customers. First is improved hygiene. Some hospitals may require employees to home launder their uniforms. The problem with that is that home washing machines are manufactured so that their water temperatures can’t exceed 120°F. Commercial laundries can process textiles using higher temperatures that will ultimately clean uniforms more efficiently, killing all microorganisms that can cause illnesses. Also, it’s important to know that should employees want to wash their uniforms at home, they risk spreading microorganisms to their families and to the public. “The bottom line is that commercial laundering takes the cross-contamination factor out of play,” he says. “This is an ongoing educational process that we as operators and vendors need to constantly reinforce with our healthcare partners.” Branding also adds value by boosting employee morale, while improving the patient experience and enhancing customer satisfaction and security, Delin says. He notes that a strong branded uniform program will benefit patients by making employees and caretakers easier to identify. At the same time, it can provide a heightened professional appearance. “Happy employees mean better patient care and higher HCAHP scores,” he says, referring to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, a survey that the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires of all U.S. hospitals. branding factor. Laundries can provide them with a uniform shade and style. “They provide consistency of product,” he says. “With branded clothing, employees can be moved easily from one facility to another as needed without confusion. For staff not enrolled in a rental program, their department or job classification is defined by color, and they are typically given an allowance to go to their uniform retail store to purchase their uniform in a predetermined color. Although sometimes convenient, this does cause a problem as the color consistency and style variations take away from the purpose of branding and continuity of the uniforms worn by staff for identification.” The assurance of product consistency also reduces the likelihood of fraudulent employees entering a hospital unnoticed, Delin says, noting that, “If your loved one is in a hospital and just had a baby, you want to make sure that the staff member who is taking your newborn back to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is wearing a uniform that identifies them as working in that particular unit. Today, anybody can walk into a uniform store and purchase a scrub and then walk onto any floor and cause harm. For security reasons, it’s important that the laundry works with the healthcare system on providing branded uniforms that define departments by color and or style. Fact is, patients feel better knowing who the caregivers are,” he says. “They want the person taking care of them to be in a branded uniform.” OUTPATIENT EXPANSION The move to outpatient settings for health services can be another way for commercial laundries to show healthcare executives how they offer value. Deloitte’s 2018 report “Growth in Outpatient Care: Branding improves consistency as well, Delin says. “If the hospital gives an allowance to employees to go to a uniform shop and says ‘Buy a navy top’ it can be any shade or style. They lose the
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