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           PEOPLE & OPINIONS                                                                                        Reprinted from March 2009

                                      Hospital textiles key to efficiency
                                      and infection prevention
                                      by James Lehman, MD, MBA, FACP, FACPE

                        ealthcare facilities are coming      dards incorporate a stringent textile pro-        on quality patient care while minimizing
                        under increased scrutiny for         cessing policy that addresses proper tech-        medical mistakes and reducing HAIs.
                        healthcare acquired infections       niques related to washing, drying,                   A practical option that can help a
             (HAIs) from both the public and regula-         finishing, quality control, packaging, stor-      healthcare facility stay focused on these
             tory sectors. Several states have passed        age and delivery of the textiles to the           critical goals is to partner with suppliers
             laws requiring hospitals to publish their       healthcare facility. HLAC standards ad-           who can provide competent and consistent
             infection rates. The Centers for Medicare       dress facility requirements, such as the          service for its non-core operational needs.
             & Medicaid Services (CMS) has created a         separation of clean and soil processing ar-       However, outsourcing need not mean that
             list of events that they believe should never   eas, building layout and procedures that          quality and service will be sacrificed.
             happen in a hospital and therefore will not     eliminate the chance of contamination of          Rather, the healthcare facility should part-
             pay for the care related to that event. This    clean textiles, ensure consistent facility        ner with suppliers who can bring exper-
             list of “Never Events” includes several         cleanliness and pest elimination, and             tise and superior standards to the service
             HAIs and, not surprisingly, other insurers      proper equipment maintenance practices            provided. The two most successful out-
             are similarly denying payment for these         to ensure no textiles are compromised at          sourcing relationships are trust and secu-
             events. These and other factors have chal-      any time.                                         rity—without these, the relationship is
             lenged the healthcare industry to develop         All these factors play a critical role in en-   destined for failure. Laundry facility ac-
             superior infection prevention programs.         suring textiles are consistently and properly     creditation is viewed as the standard of
             Professional healthcare laundry service         processed and returned to the healthcare          excellence in the laundry industry.
             providers — in-house or commercial —            facility in a hygienically clean state.              An HLAC-accredited laundry demon-
             play an important role in infection preven-       Healthcare trends have a significant im-        strates through the independent inspection
             tion and patient safety, as well as hospital    pact on the textile maintenance industry.         process that it meets or exceeds industry
             efficiency.                                     Aging baby boomers are putting more               standards for healthcare textile processing
                Laundry professionals serving the            pressure on the market for increased              and possesses the knowledge and compe-
             healthcare market recognized they faced a       healthcare services. For a second straight        tencies required of a trusted, high-quality,
             similar need to develop ongoing process         year, laundry services remained the num-          supply chain partner. Partnering with an
             improvement that ensured government             ber one outsourced department in 2007,            accredited laundry service — in-house or
             compliance and assured clients’ quality and     according to the 30th annual Outsourcing          commercial — supports a hospital’s need
             safety concerns. This recognition led to the    Survey by Modern Healthcare. Combine              for quality, efficiency, service, cost reduc-
             creation of The Healthcare Laundry Ac-          these trends with the growing need for            tion and, most importantly, successful in-
             creditation Council (HLAC) in 2003. HLAC        more targeted infection prevention strate-        fection prevention strategies and patient
             is a non-profit organization whose Board of     gies against antibiotic resistant “super          safety. For more information on HLAC and
             Directors represents laundry operators, in-     bugs” and the result is a continued and           accreditation, HPN
             dustry trade organizations, consumers and       growing need for high quality healthcare
             government agencies. Its mission is to de-      laundry processors who can consistently           Dr. Lehman is currently the vice president of
             velop the highest standards for processing      provide hygienically clean textiles.              Quality for Genesis Health System in Daven-
             healthcare textiles and provides an indepen-      In addition, competition continues to           port, Iowa. He completed his undergraduate
             dent inspection and accreditation process       increase as new healthcare facilities are         studies at Iowa State University with a B.S. in
             that recognizes those laundries that meet the   built, creating a desire and need among           Psychology. His M.D. degree was obtained from
             standards. No other neutral organization        those organizations to differentiate them-        the University of Iowa and his internal medi-
             had existed for the purpose of developing       selves. Awards and quality programs such          cine residency followed at the University of
             this type of program.                           as the Malcolm Baldrige National Qual-            Nebraska in Omaha. He obtained his MBA from
                HLAC standards include OSHA-re-              ity Award or Top 100 Best Hospital lists          St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
             quired mandates such as practicing univer-      are being utilized to meet the new chal-          Dr. Lehman practiced internal medicine for 12
             sal precaution when handling soiled             lenges of competition, quality improve-           years and for the past 18 years has been involved
             textiles, PPE training and compliance,          ment and cost reduction. Participation in         in hospital administration. He is board certi-
             needle stick prevention, emergency proce-       quality programs can help establish               fied in both Internal Medicine and Medical
             dures, CDC and HICPAC recommenda-               guidelines and criteria by which an orga-         Management and is a Fellow in the American
             tions, hand hygiene, Hepatitis B Program,       nization can evaluate itself, implement           College of Physicians and the American Col-
             Exposure Control Plan and more. The stan-       process improvements and stay focused             lege of Physician Executives.

                                       Reprinted with permission, Healthcare Purchasing News, March 2009

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