(Editor’s note: This is a response to Eric Frederick’s column, Scrub Rental: Look at Costs, Storage.)
I would like to introduce some thoughts on why, after full evaluation, many hospitals are finding the room to install uniform exchange lockers for scrubs.
One of the first reasons to move from an open system is that the hospital can limit which staff members have access to scrubs. In an open system, staff members can help themselves. In a closed system, with lockers, only individuals authorized by the institution have the ability to access scrubs. Further, the number of cycles a staff member can use in a given week can be limited.
Say Institution A has an open system. If a staff member is a part-time employee, they can take what they want and even wear Institution A’s scrubs while working at Institution B or even a surgery center. In a closed system, a fixed amount is available so that each staff person only has enough for the days they are working at the institution supplying the scrubs. Embroidery can be added to further customize a garment for a specific staff person.
Another major reason to have a closed system: If employees are receiving their own scrubs, we can arrange to have them altered so they always feel good about how they look. Additionally, they know that they are dedicated garments specifically provided to them, and, therefore, are available when required and fit perfectly.
Would anyone prefer to wear pool scrubs? Our experience shows that when we deal with products that are ours, we tend to take better care of them. Think of a rental vehicle versus one we own. This human response causes there to be insignificant loss as compared to the scrubs that are lost when an institution has a pool system.
There can be loss when someone separates (leaves) from an institution. We need to consider how low turnover is. We have never seen this phenomenon as a big cost item.
Walk around most institutions and count how many employees are wearing hospital-provided scrubs. For how many employees did the hospital really want to provide scrubs? Losses are eliminated as the staff has scrubs assigned to them.
We all take better care of what is ours. We also feel better when the garment we wear is tailored to fit us. We are not a size small forced to wear an extra large, because that was the only size left in the locker room.
In a closed system, it is easy to identify a given user area by assigning a color or style to a specific department. A good example is designating a unique color to Labor and Delivery for security reasons.
Regardless of the system, scrubs need to be washed. It is far better for everyone if they are washed professionally at a high temperature setting than in a home washer with the family’s clothing.
If we add the cost of processing, the excess loss by virtue of a pool system, and the waste created by unauthorized staff wearing scrubs, the uniform rental program is the winner.
The article points out that the distribution of scrubs is another expense removed from the hospital.
A full evaluation with a healthcare uniform professional should clearly be considered before rejecting a locker system for scrubs.
Michael Potack, President/CEO
Unitex Textile Rental Services, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.