Picture this scenario: you work in a relatively large facility and, once again, your hospital is slammed today. It’s back to back appointments, a patient needs treatments, kennels are full, and surgeries are booked solid. The laundry is piling up and you can’t find a clean towel to save your life. It’s an all hands on deck type of day.
One of your assistants gets five minutes in between walking patients and decides to swap loads of laundry. Great! They’re even wearing gloves. Even better! So you think. The assistant loads the dirty laundry into the washing machine, then pulls the clean laundry out of the dryer to fold it, unknowingly contaminating the clean laundry. The “clean” laundry gets folded and put out for use.
Days later, one of those surgery patients comes back with a secondary infection. Everyone is wondering where the infection came from, and looking for the culprit to blame. He was wearing an e-collar the entire time. His owner kept the incision clean. And he was provided with clean bedding during his stay. This type of thing is happening more often than we think, so why the secondary infection?
There are multiple factors that can contribute to contamination. But one area that has evaded the attention of veterinarians, until now, is the laundry. There are several potential specific contributors under this general umbrella. The first one, is cross contamination. Veterinary practices are not set up to do the proper cleaning procedure. The second thing to consider is what linens you are using. Donated linens bring in pathogens. Many textiles can not be cleaned properly, and provide a safe home for contagions to thrive in your practice. The third factor is detergent. Household detergents are not capable of killing all the germs we deal with in veterinary medicine. There is also the equipment. The washers and dryers designed for domestic laundry can not handle this level of professional medical cleaning. No wonder our rates of secondary infections are so high compared to our human medicine counter-parts.
Many hospitals use old towels, donated blankets, donated dog and/or cat beds as their linens for hospitalized patients. We’ve done this thinking we are saving money, but are we? Oftentimes, those big heavy blankets don’t get 100% clean. If you are washing a load that includes linens from a parvo positive puppy, and then using those linens for a healthy puppy who was only there for a spay, you are putting that healthy puppy at risk if steps aren’t taken to properly sanitize. If we add in other immunocompromised patients, such as oncology patients, then we are potentially risking quite a few patients’ health.
Tide. Arm and Hammer. Gain. Ajax. These are all brands of detergents that are in veterinary facilities being used to wash linens daily. While they may smell good, and make the linens feel softer, they are not made for commercial or veterinary use. Which means, they are not going to kill many of the parasites, viruses or bacteria that we see pets for day in and day out.
So, now picture this scenario: you work in a relatively large facility and your hospital is slammed today. Every time you turn around, another appointment is here, a patient needs to be seen, all the kennels are full. Surgeries are booked solid. The laundry is piling up everywhere. It’s an all hands on deck type of day. One of your assistants gets 5 minutes in between patients, and uses that 5 minutes to eat a snack. A short time later, a driver comes to pick up your dirty linens and take them away to a facility set up to properly clean them. The next day you receive a delivery of your linens cleaned to a hospital grade level of hygiene, safe and ready to use. This saves your staff time, meaning they can pay more attention to their patients and they aren’t feeling as overwhelmed by their workload.
VSS recently sent out a survey to all of our clients. The number one thing that hospitals said was their biggest pain point for laundry was that there is “so much laundry all of the time.” The second pain point? Machines breaking down. There was a mix of responses when it came to asking about how much time is spent doing laundry. Some hospitals said an hour or two, some said between five and six hours, others said it’s hard to say because the laundry runs around the clock. According to respondents of our survey, laundry is done by anyone who can help. This includes doctors, assistants, technicians, front desk staff, and kennel technicians. The most surprising response we found in the survey was that 74% of hospitals that replied never test their laundry for pathogens, and 5.3% wash most loads in bleach so they assume that all pathogens are dead.
We want to help. So, why don’t you sit right back and take a load off?! VSS is offering a new laundry service! That’s right – we’ve gone and done it again! On top of all of the other great services we offer, we are here to help you do laundry! Note: not your personal laundry, hospital laundry only. But we can also wash your staff’s scrubs to the same level of clean! Here’s what this means: we will launder your existing linens, or we can source linens for you that are more appropriate for in-clinic use. No more having to go out and buy them at Target, or take in donations from clients, etc. We will set up a schedule with you according to how frequently you need laundry rotated. The linens are then washed and dried in a human hospital grade environment, and following appropriate CDC, and OSHA regulations. Poof! The laundry fairy that your mom always told you didn’t exist is now real! Wouldn’t you rather spend your time doing the doctorly things you went to school for anyway?
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Jessie is an RVT who entered the field of veterinary medicine while living in sunny San Diego in April of 2003. She considers herself fortunate to have chosen a career that was able to take her to Cincinnati, Boston, Jacksonville, San Diego (twice!), and now to beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. Jessie has even done some volunteer work abroad with Vets Beyond Borders in Sardinia, Italy. She joined the VSS management squad in August of 2017. Jessie shares her home with her two dogs, Maddie and Albert, and her cat, Lucille. In her spare time, she enjoys all of the outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer, reading, and watching stand up comedy.