DES MOINES, Iowa — A partnership between Iowa Health System, the state’s first and largest integrated health system, and ARAMARK Healthcare has earned an Environmental Stewardship Award for its laundry operation that has been open less than a year.
The Metro Waste Authority (MWA) this month recognized the efforts of environmentally conscious leaders in the Des Moines community who strive to lessen waste and increase resource conservation.
The 48,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility incorporates “green” technology to save water and energy. It processes 13 million pounds of linen used annually by Iowa Health System hospitals from across the state.
Midwest Healthcare Textile Services opened last summer to replace three aging laundries housed at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines, Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge and Allen Hospital in Waterloo.
“When you are dealing with the tonnage that we are, you quickly realize that laundry processing is not an afterthought for the healthcare industry,” says Bill Leaver, president and CEO of Iowa Health System, whose hospitals care for almost one in every three patients in the state.
“This partnership has created a facility and situation in which we are able to economically balance the needs of our hospitals with our corporate desire to have as little environmental impact as possible. In the end, it is really a win-win for both our hospital operations and the environment," Leaver adds.
LESS WATER, LESS WASTE
The eco-friendly facility has two, 80-foot-long tunnel washers that move laundry through 15 cycles in 30 minutes with a load capacity of 20,000 pounds each. Despite its size, the facility uses only one gallon of water per pound of laundry compared to three gallons per pound used by the three original laundries. This saves more than 8 million gallons annually.
The equipment also reuses as much water as possible. Wastewater is held in a giant reservoir, allowing it to continuously drain into a single, 4-inch sewer line. Additionally, the plant recycles heat from the steam that is used in the tunnel system.
The MWA also points out the laundry’s selection of T8 fluorescent light fixtures that use half the electricity to produce light, and its use of handheld computers to reduce paperwork.
“Now that the facility is up and running, we are working for ways to benchmark the economic and environmental impact of replacing the disposable textiles currently used in our hospitals with reusable products,” says Dan McDow, chief operations officer of Consolidated Services for Iowa Health System. “That would be another tremendous environmental win, because we could significantly reduce products discarded each day at hospitals across the state.”
ARAMARK Healthcare provided the capital for the central laundry project in exchange for a 15-year management agreement, which will save more than $5 million for Iowa Health System.
“ARAMARK Healthcare has a deep commitment to protecting and improving the environment,” says Deb Moyer, ARAMARK Healthcare’s vice president of operations. “This new, innovative laundry facility will not only save millions of gallons of water per year, but will also act as an example for other organizations that want to reduce their environmental footprint.”