ELMHURST, Ill. — Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare (EMHC) weighed all of its options, including outsourcing, but ultimately decided it wanted to keep its laundry in-house. The west suburban Chicago health system relocated the service last month from Elmhurst Memorial Hospital to its newly expanded Business Operations Center some two miles away.
The new laundry covering 15,000 square feet centers around a new 8-module Pellerin Milnor tunnel washer, whereas the on-premise facility at the hospital relied on a bank of washer-extractors. A single-stage press, a two-tier automated shuttle and three dryers (with room for a fourth) complement the tunnel. EMHC also purchased some new flatwork equipment from Chicago Dryer Co. and moved other pieces of flatwork equipment from the old site.
The new soil-sort area simplifies the task and speeds up production.
EMHC staff and administrators began exploring the possibility of a new laundry some two years ago, says David Reeves, EMHC’s director of food, nutrition and laundry services. The need became apparent when comparing the older laundry to newer facilities, such as that of Chicago’s Resurrection Medical Center, and the project finances looked favorable.
“We agreed in principle that ‘We’re cost-efficient, and the organization believes in the concept of having our own laundry, therefore having full control of our linen service,’” Reeves says.
But it was the planned construction of a new healthcare campus in south Elmhurst that pushed concept into reality. EMHC was looking for space on campus to build mock-ups of a patient room, an OR suite and more, and it was suggested the laundry area could be used for that purpose.
Annual capacity of the new tunnel system on a single shift, five days a week, is roughly 5.6 million pounds. The laundry is currently processing 3.5 million pounds a year. “We have the ability to take on a lot more volume,” Reeves says.
The former Elmhurst Hospital laundry stands quiet now, but it will one day house mock-ups of a patient room, an OR suite and more that EMHC plans to feature in its new hospital.
Because it delivers off-site to several different EMHC facilities, a driver and truck are now dedicated solely to linen distribution. The laundry employs 17 FTEs. One person remained at Elmhurst Memorial to build carts.
“I would say it’s been relatively smooth,” Reeves says of the relocation. “We were able to transition without any interruption in service. … The employees have had to work some extra hours, of course, but the equipment has been relatively easy for them to catch on to. I think that we’re definitely ahead of where I’d hoped to be.”
EMHC expects to break ground on the new campus this fall and take occupancy in 2010.