Buy vs. Rent: Managing Your Hospital Curtains
How well does your healthcare organization handle its hospital curtains? These essential hospital linens, also called cubicle curtains or privacy curtains, add a layer of cleanliness and enhance your overall brand in healthcare settings.
There are two main routes to having enough hospital curtains on hand: buying or renting. Here are some key points to consider before purchasing a large inventory of new curtains or signing an agreement to outsource/rent your curtains.
Download the Guide to Curtain Cleaning Best Practices
Considerations for Buying Hospital Curtains
Purchasing an entire inventory of privacy curtains is quite expensive. Some healthcare organizations default to buying hospital curtains out of habit, without first considering other options. In some cases, there’s a perception that purchasing curtains outright will prevent other fees and investments down the line.
This isn’t always the case. The true cost of purchasing privacy curtains becomes more obvious over time as your facility manages the daily hassle of curtain cleaning and management. Your staff devotes time to gathering hospital curtains and other linens, washing and drying them, folding them, and replacing them throughout the facility.
Plus, the costs add up as time goes by. Worn, stained, damaged, or lost curtains need replacements to prevent shortages or gaps in infection prevention procedures. Your organization becomes vulnerable to purchase price changes, inventory availability, and market variations in the costs of laundry materials and equipment.
If anything changes in the structure of your hospital curtain management, this adds another point of vulnerability. For example, if you can no longer source the same ceiling tracks or clips that hold the type of curtains you use, your hefty investment in curtains could become useless. Additionally, suppose you are unable to purchase a consistent style of curtain that you previously invested in. In that case, you risk having mismatched styles and sizes of curtains without a uniform appearance from room to room.
Don’t forget about the frustrations and workplace safety of your staff. When they’re spending significant time on ladders, replacing curtains, and handling heavy loads of laundry, their safety is at risk and their time is unavailable for other important tasks.
Here are the main considerations for buying hospital curtains:
- High initial investment
- Potential for hidden fees and costs
- Cost of laundry materials, equipment, and staff
- Inspection risks
- Risk of obsolete curtains/supplies
- Safety issues with ladders and lifting
- Time investment for your staff
- Potential sacrifices to customer service and patient experience
How Often Should Hospital Curtains Be Changed?
Hospital curtains are an important part of ensuring patient privacy and safety. Curtains must be removed, cleaned, and replaced regularly to maintain a hygienic environment.
Does your healthcare facility follow laundry cleaning standards, as set by the CDC? Some facilities fall out of regulatory compliance for linens because they’re too busy or understaffed to maintain cleaning standards. This is one of the top motivations for outsourcing curtain cleaning to a company that reliably follows hygienic procedures.
On any given day, approximately 1 in 31 hospital patients will acquire a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), according to the CDC. For infection prevention in healthcare settings, clean curtains regularly using procedures like “dead on contact” washing, and bacteria-inhibiting softeners to prevent the spread of bio-contaminants.
Although there is no nationwide regulation setting a firm schedule for hospital curtain cleaning, the industry standard is to assess curtains regularly, with the best practice being to replace them quarterly. A laundry partner can provide the best schedule for your facility based on patient load to ensure the safest possible environment in your healthcare facility.
Download the Guide to Curtain Cleaning Best Practices
Tips for Renting/Outsourcing Hospital Curtains
Outsourcing cubicle curtains typically involves selecting a style of curtain that works with your facility’s image, choosing a minimum swap-out frequency, and arranging a convenient pick-up and drop-off schedule. The right partner will work to meet your scheduling needs with ease, even on the large scale of a major hospital.
Do they make customer service a priority? Will you have a specific account representative assigned to you, or will you wait in a long queue of 1-800 phone calls? Find out how they handle customer inquiries and whether they have representatives available at all times in case of urgent issues that may arise.
Look for a partner with no up-front investment or charge to start your service. They should also follow the industry’s best practices when it comes to infection prevention protocols. For example, they should meet OSHA rules and CDC standards for sanitized linens and all textiles should be compliant with fire safety regulations.
Learn More About Our Worry-Free Cubicle Curtain Program
Ask about the types of curtains a potential partner uses, including how they handle sliding track-based curtains and snap-on curtains. Inquire about the process for replacing old and worn linens and whether there are hidden fees for replacements.
Examine a potential linen partner’s handling methods, including how they track and scan your hospital curtains. Modern linen management methods involve scanning embedded RFID chips every time curtains are changed, swapping out linens within minutes, and maintaining a digital inventory record. These techniques facilitate smooth linen management and prevent interruptions in your daily operations.
Here’s one last tip: Don’t overlook the impact of branding. The right linen partner will help you maintain consistent branding across your facilities and throughout the rooms in each building. The ideal partner is always working proactively to ensure every detail looks and feels consistent for the best possible patient experience.
Finally, here’s a summary of considerations for outsourcing/renting your hospital linens:
- Pick-up and drop-off schedule arrangements for maximum convenience
- Superior customer service and support
- No up-front investment or hidden fees
- Compliance with industry best practices and regulatory standards for patient/staff safety
- Up-to-date tracking and reporting
- Safety procedures for proper linen handling
- Freeing up your staff to focus on facility/patient needs
- Consistent image across your organization
Where to Rent Hospital Curtains
We hope this article has helped you understand your options for hospital curtain purchasing vs. rental and the compelling benefits of outsourcing management. To learn more about hospital linen management and curtain cleaning, download a helpful guide from ImageFIRST®.