Infection Prevention

Environmental Infection Control & Linen Management in Healthcare Facilities

Limiting the impact of environmental infections is absolutely essential in healthcare facilities. An infection can spread from something as innocuous as a cubicle curtain, and this possibility is even more prevalent today thanks to the massive impact the novel coronavirus pandemic has had on the healthcare profession.

Fortunately, strategies exist to help combat the spread of highly contagious infections in healthcare facility environments – and one of the most effective methods involves proper linen management.

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Environment Infection Control Guidance Standards

Staff member handling linens

As a government entity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long been concerned with taking critical steps to ensure America’s healthcare facilities and clinical laboratories are prepared to respond to the threat of highly communicable diseases.

Their guidelines for environmental infection control in healthcare facilities have been invaluable in efforts to reduce the impact of previous environmental infections, and healthcare facilities that adopt their guidance standards to increase their environmental infection control practices set themselves up for better success. As a result, turning to the CDC for the latest guidance is always recommended.

One of the many ways that the CDC guidelines for environmental infection control in healthcare facilities take shape is in their approach to the cleaning and sanitization of everyday materials used by medical personnel. Special care and emphasis are placed on textiles especially, as these items range from garments like scrubs and lab coats to patient gowns and bedding – all of which could easily act as infection vectors if not appropriately managed.

The Challenges of Linen Management

Three team members working on healthcare laundry

Healthcare facilities that take infection control seriously do well in focusing on linen management, but there are a number of challenges that this task entails.

Conducting proper care for linens requires the luxury of devoting staff to effectively manage inventory and sanitation, which either increases overhead for facilities or risks impacting staff availability for patient needs, or both.

Additionally, the costs associated with laundering linens internally using methods and equipment that aim to meet infection control standards can be steep. The expertise necessary to perform these tasks properly, which includes collecting soiled or contaminated linens safely, cleaning them to hygienically clean standards, and then redistributing them to healthcare facilities in a timely manner, offers even more logistical challenges when working with a small or inexperienced company.

Meanwhile, the alternative of not providing adequate environmental infection control is equally unacceptable.

Meeting These Challenges Through a Managed Linen Service

A Customer Advocate ensuring proper inventory management

For organizations that take CDC guidelines for environmental infection control in healthcare facilities seriously, there seem to be few options open if they lack the resources to meet linen sanitization standards.

However, one of the ideal ways to meet the challenges that go along with linen management tasks is to engage the services of a managed medical linen service offered by a third-party provider. In other words, let an expert handle this challenging process for you.

Medical linen services tick nearly all the boxes the CDC recommends for providing high levels of environmental infection control, as service providers have both the knowledge and the equipment necessary to ensure hospital linens are clean and sanitized to exacting standards.

Healthcare facilities that partner with a managed linen service provider also benefit from not having to devote facility staff to these tasks. A good provider will ensure that the correct volume of fresh, clean linens is always available when needed.

Additionally, these services are cost-effective when compared to the costs that a healthcare facility would incur if managing on their own.

Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities

There will always be a need for high levels of environmental infection control in healthcare facilities. If anything, it will only become even more pronounced as the healthcare community continues to deal with the aftereffects of COVID-19 and other highly-infectious illnesses and diseases.

With many healthcare facilities already stretched to the limit of their capabilities, it can be a viable option to consider redirecting medical linen management tasks to an external experienced textile provider.

However, this does not change the essential nature of having a strong linen management process, not just for the purpose of infection prevention but also for the sake of staff and patients. Now more than ever, patients and staff desire clean, comfortable scrubs, patient gowns, and sheets without having to think about it.

In this context, using a managed linen service is an ideal solution to ensure healthcare facilities meet their clinical responsibilities to protect the health and safety of their patients and staff. The additional benefits of using such a service, which include its cost-effectiveness, provide the ability to free up facility staff to enable them to provide better, more direct care to patients, along with giving them the peace of mind of knowing that linens are being collected, sanitized, and returned quickly and reliably.

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