How Our Laundry Sanitation Practices Help Prevent the Spread of Infection in Hospitals
The Problem: Hospital-Related Infections
Medical staff and their patients can be exposed to a variety of fomites in the hospital setting. Fomites, or materials that are likely to carry infection, must be properly managed to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). In healthcare settings, fomites include materials such as bed linen, patient gowns, and medical scrubs. If these items are not properly laundered and handled, the risk of transferring pathogens to others remains high. Prioritizing your patient and staff’s safety starts with assessing your current infection prevention practices – including linen.
From staff washing their scrubs at home to privacy curtains not being changed often enough – there are countless places for pathogens to linger. As a trusted partner in the healthcare industry, ImageFIRST specializes in providing hospitals and other healthcare facilities nationwide a laundering service that ensures your linens are appropriately sanitized and delivered. This means that when it comes to HAIs, linen is one less thing you have to worry about.
The Solution: Our Industry-Leading Infection Prevention Process
At ImageFIRST, we prioritize safety for not only your staff and patients, but for our associates as well. Our laundering processes, which meet or exceed OSHA, CDC, and HLAC standards and the Joint Commission requirements, are specially designed to manage linen and other textiles within the healthcare industry. We take exceptional care to ensure your linens are as clean when they arrive to your facility as when they left ours.
Where Your Linen is Cleaned
Infection prevention starts at the laundry plant. Ensuring that our associates are appropriately trained to handle potentially infectious material can help prevent the spread of infection in your facility. Proper sorting, cleaning, storing, and handling methods for both soiled and clean linen is essential, and our tried-and-true processes don’t leave anything to chance.
Each of our plants is set up to prevent clean linen from contamination. When soiled linen arrives at our facility, an associate sorts each gown, pillowcase, scrub, and so forth accordingly to begin the laundering process. These soiled items must remain in a restricted area of the facility until cleaned. This restricted area of our plants employs negative air pressure – ensuring the air only flows from a clean space and is not recirculated into other areas. Associates in this section also wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, fluid-resistant isolation gowns, eye protection, and bouffant caps to safeguard our associates.
Furthermore, our cleaned linen never come into contact with potentially soiled linen. By completely separating the clean linen from the soiled linen throughout the entire process and minimizing its handling when possible, we avoid the risk of contaminating cleaned textiles – guaranteeing it remains sanitized after it is laundered.
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A Wash Process That Exceeds Industry Standards
“Hygienically clean” may not be clean enough to prevent infection from spreading. Other linen providers oftentimes will use the phrase “hygienically clean” to describe their laundry process, but this claim is vague and does not have a specific agreed-upon definition. Additionally, according to the CDC and OSHA, some methods of washing healthcare linen, such as by dry cleaning or home laundering, can be ineffective in reducing the number of pathogens and does not provide a “hygienically clean” or sanitized wash.
Our linen undergoes an industry-leading cleaning process that ensures your linens are not just “hygienically clean,” but are thoroughly sanitized to kill pathogens commonly found in healthcare settings.
Our robust wash process is proven to kill 99.999% of common pathogens. We utilize a Triple BioShield Protection process, a comprehensive infection prevention system, which consists of three steps that will help keep your patients and your staff safe.
- Dead-on-Contact Wash: We wash all linen in an industry-leading disinfectant detergent, which is formulated to kill 99.999% of common pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19. This sanitizing detergent delivers the highest level of cleanliness for reusable textiles.
- “BacStat BioShield” Coating: We apply a bacteria-inhibitor softener and protective coating to each piece of linen during our wash process. The coating creates a zone of inhibition on the product – preventing any bacteria that may land on the linen during its use from spreading further. This bacteria-inhibitor coating can also help to prevent the spread of infection in your facility by stopping microbes from proliferating.
- Plastic Barrier: All our linens are plastic wrapped for delivery, ensuring your items are as clean when they get to you as they were when they left our plant. Patient gowns are individually wrapped to provide your patients with the peace of mind that they are receiving a fresh, clean gown.
Our Triple BioShield Protection gives your health system or hospital the reassurance that your linens are laundered appropriately with infection prevention as the top priority. As leaders in the healthcare linen industry, we understand how to prevent the spread of infection when it comes to linen in your medical facility. You can rest assured knowing your scrubs, bedding, curtains, and other linens are all laundered with an industry-leading wash process.
Creating a Barrier to Infection
How often are your isolation gowns’ fluid resistance being replenished?
In every wash, we revitalize our isolation gowns’ fluid repellency. By replenishing the garment’s repellency each time, an invisible shield is formed for an added layer of safety against potentially dangerous pathogens — extending the average service life of that textile. We even require an additional check for fluid repellency by utilizing a strikethrough test.
Maintaining Compliance with Standards
Our medical laundry sanitation processes are documented daily in each of our plants, and we run internal checks daily and weekly. We also hire third-party independent labs to test our processes monthly to ensure our cleaning methods comply with and exceed government standards. We then certify our plants each year for compliance.
In addition to these certification methods, we also meet or exceed standards set by OSHA, CDC, and HLAC for healthcare linen and are compliant with the Joint Commission requirements.
This system of checks and balances provides you with the peace of mind that you are getting the infection prevention that your facility needs.
Delivering for Infection Prevention
Ensuring your linens are as clean when they are placed on your shelves as when they left our plants is instrumental to infection prevention in your hospital. We provide you with a direct extension of your team with a dedicated representative, whom we call a Customer Advocate, who will not only deliver linen to your facility, but also will fully adhere to infection prevention protocols. Upon dropping off soiled linen at our plant, each delivery truck is sanitized to prevent potential recontamination of clean linen and to help prevent the spread of infection.
Laundry Sanitation as a Part of Your Linen Program
During their visit to your hospital, patients are surrounded by linen: from the bed sheets they lie on, to the privacy curtains shielding them, and to the gowns they wear. With so many fomites exposed to them, the possibility of contamination runs high. Understanding how to prevent infection from spreading in your healthcare facility begins with establishing infection prevention processes that are effective in protecting both your staff and your patients – including the often-overlooked linen.
Partnering with ImageFIRST for your laundry and linen rental services means you will get a comprehensive program – complete with our Triple BioShield Protection medical laundry sanitization methods and robust infection prevention processes.