- Written by Peter Corr
WDES MOINES, Iowa — A partnership between Iowa Health System, the state’s first and largest integrated health system, and ARAMARK Healthcare has received an Environmental Stewardship Award.
The 48,000-square-foot state-of-the-art laundry operation incorporates green technology to save water and energy. It is used to process over 13 million pounds of linen used annually by Iowa Health System hospitals from across the state.
The environmentally friendly facility, which operates under the name Midwest Healthcare Textile Services, replaced three aging laundries once 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 health-care industry,” said Bill Leaver, president and CEO of Iowa Health System, whose hospitals care for almost one in every three patients in the state of Iowa.
“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 added.
The Environmental Stewardship Award, given to Iowa Health System and ARAMARK Healthcare by the Metro Waste Authority (MWA), recognizes the efforts of environmentally conscious leaders in the community who strive to lessen waste and increase conservation of resources.LESS WATER, LESS WASTE
The award-winning 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 the size of the operation, the facility uses about two less gallons of water per pound of laundry than the plants it replaced. Previously, three gallons of water were used to wash one pound of laundry; now one gallon is used. This is a savings of more than 8 million gallons of water per year. The equipment also reuses as much water as possible. Wastewater is held in a giant reservoir, allowing it to continuously drain into a single four-inch sewer line. Additionally, the plant recycles heat from the steam that is used in the tunnel system.
“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,” said 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. We exceeded our targeted pounds per operator hour. Target for 2008 was 124 and we achieved 132 pounds. This was achieved through tapping into ARAMARK’s national performance improvement initiatives from their other facilities.”
Machinery in the plant includes 2 Jensen Automated Batch Wash Systems, 10 300-lb. Jensen Dryers, a Chicago Dryer King Edge two-station feeder, an Edge single station feeder, a Chicago picker, 2 Braun blanket folders, four Braun small piece folders and a three-roll Braun ironer. Transportation shuttle carts are Meese.
Midwest Healthcare Textile Services is a partnership that benefits Iowa Health System, its hospitals, and ARAMARK Healthcare. ARAMARK Healthcare provided the capital 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. We are excited about this collaboration with Iowa Health System, an organization with a similar desire to create long-term environmental stewardship programs,” said 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.”
The MWA is an independent government agency composed of 16 member communities, one county and six planning members in central Iowa. The mission of the MWA is to be the leader in environmental stewardship and costeffective waste management. Managed by an executive director and governed by a board of directors consisting of one elected official from each of its member communities, MWA operates various waste reduction and recycling, providing services to almost 120,000 households.
Initially formed in 1995, Iowa Health System includes 11 hospitals in Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Sioux City, Waterloo, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Ill., along with a group of 369 staffed physicians and 128 clinics in 71 communities in Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. Iowa Health System is the first and largest integrated health care system in Iowa with revenues of almost $2 billion and more than 19,000 employees. Its hospitals serve almost one in every three patients in Iowa.
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