Staff Safety2

Increasing Healthcare Workers’ Safety Starts with Our Associates

By: ImageFIRST News, Apr 6, 2020

While medical linen and laundry may not be top of mind currently, hospitals can’t care for their patients without scrubs or bed linen. Thankfully the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified ImageFIRST Associates as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” enabling us to continue to serve the brave heroes at the front line of this pandemic: nurses, clinicians, doctors and more.

No matter what, we must make sure we do everything we can to help them save lives.

And we would not be able to unless we put the safety and health of our customers and our associates first.  Our infection prevention standards have always met or exceeded industry and regulatory standards.  Additionally, weeks ago, we proactively took additional steps to ensure increased safety for our associates and minimize their risk of exposure.

Additional Steps to Protect Our Associates

Continue to Follow Our Superior Infection Prevention Standards

Our laundering and handling processes have always met or exceeded Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) standards and comply with The Joint Commission requirements.

We even go beyond the recommended “hygienically clean” with our sanitized wash, which has always been part of our normal process. This means both hospital staff and their patients can trust their linen will be a safe as possible.

Expanded Infection Control and Safety Procedures

We looked at all our in-plant and in-transit procedures and expanded our processes at or above CDC, HLAC, and TRSA guidelines. Some examples include:

  • We established “Social Distance Champions” to coordinate and make all of us accountable
  • We separated shifts, so associates do not overlap
  • We increased decontamination of soiled areas beyond OSHA requirements
  • We expanded housekeeping practices to include sanitizing of all public areas throughout the day
  • We increased the use of Personal Protection Equipment) (PPE (gloves, face masks & glasses) beyond CDC & HLAC requirements
  • We provided WHO training to our associates: how to properly hand wash, covering coughs, etc.

Built an Inventory of PPE Items for Associates

We always provided PPE to our plant associates: masks, fluid-resistant gowns, gloves, goggles and bouffant caps. But we took it a step further and several weeks ago, secured an inventory of PPE items for associates to be safe and able to work.

Pre-Shift Health Checklist for All Associates

Using CDC guidelines, and for the safety of all our associates, we conduct pre-shift health check for each associate – in a way that also protects the associate doing the checking! For example, we now utilize no-touch thermometers in accordance with EEOC and HIPAA compliance. Additionally, we’ve closed access to our buildings from visitors and vendors unless screened.

Look to The Experts for Guidance

We are continually monitoring CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies to stay current in all recommended procedures – and then we go a step above that.

COVID-19: New Linen Handling Procedures

We have extreme confidence in our processes and ability to safely handle soiled product, including linens which potentially may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19).  However, in the interest of extreme caution, we prepared to process such product following these steps to further protect our staff:

  1. Product potentially contaminated with COVID-19 must be identified, kept separate and brought to the attention of your ImageFIRST Service Representative
  2. Laundry bags containing this product must be securely closed to prevent product fallout; and
  3. When possible, we ask you to let this product sit at least 6 hours after use before we pick up.

Ensuring front line healthcare workers nationwide can focus on saving lives in these tough times requires us to elevate our game and reinforce our safety procedures for our associates. Our associates will continue to be our number one priority, as seen in our Purpose: “to build a great company by positively impacting the lives of our associates, our community, our customers and their patients.”

We thank all the hard work healthcare heroes are putting in and want to tell them: “we have your back”.

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