- Created on Wednesday, 02 March 2005 16:58
- Written by Jamie Kiffel
BALTMORE, Md. -- Crisp, white lab coats; the sterile snap of fresh sheets; an endless parade of clean towels and cloths. While linens may not be on most people’s minds when they consider medical technology, at Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital, thanks to a new laundry installation, they have become part of the hospital’s cutting-edge approach to medicine.“We can now process up to 14,000 pounds of linen every day,” says Florin Kuhn, Sinai’s Corporate Director of Environmental Services and Laundry for LifeBridge Health System (comprised of Northwest Hospital, Levindale Geriatric and Nursing Home, Jewish Convalescent Center, and Hospital Centers). Those 14,000 pounds are what keep surgeons in fresh scrubs with towels at the ready, sheets on every patient’s bed and a major hospital supplied with the essential washables it needs to run smoothly and keep saving lives. The enormous load is being made possible thanks to a brand new ten-compartment automated Braun Batch Tunnel Washing System that has replaced two 25-year-old top-side loading washers. The $1.6 million installation included a new Braun ironer-folder, a remodeled American ironer-folder and two small Braun Sigma folders.
The results are already paying for the equipment. “We went from a 16-hour working day with a lot of temporary help and overtime to about a 10-hour working day and no temporary help,” says Florin. “It’s a major improvement in savings: about $300,000 per year.” In utilities alone, Florin has saved about $2000 per year—20% less than what the 40,000-foot laundry paid before—and $1000 per year in chemicals. Perhaps most impressively, the laundry has increased its annual poundage from 3.5 million pounds per year to over five million. “We can wash up to 2700 pounds of linen per hour,” Florin marvels.
The new machine has also eliminated a lot of mechanical effort. “The belt is attached to a programmer, and that programmer displays, by numbers, the items every compartment contains,” Florin explains. “If we run linen for Northwest Hospital, for instance, we can track their laundry at the press of a button.”
Besides Sinai and Northwest Hospital, the facility processes for Surgical Center of Baltimore, Pearlstone Retreat Center, and several smaller outpatient areas. Items include all hospital linen garments, sheets, blankets, patient gowns, scrubs, towels, surgical gowns and lab coats. “Everything except for bedspreads can be run through the ironers and small folders,” says Florin.
Boasting 50 laundry carts and two drivers for its rented laundry trucks, the laundry works seven days-per-week, 6:30-5:00 p.m. with 22 employees. “That number did not change after the installation,” Florin notes. “This was taken into consideration when we started to expand.”
The facility also hums with an 800-pound Braun washer, a 400- and 150-pound Milnor, as well as two 400-lb. Milnor dryers.
Further expansion is being considered. “I’m looking into adding another dryer, and a new picker, which unfluffs wet linen coming from the tunnel washer,” says Florin. However, he’s not worried about handling the current influx, even as the new Birthplace at Sinai birthing center is scheduled to bring a brand new line of scrubs and bedspreads to the laundry. In fact, Florin feels confident that the new system will handle everything well for years to come—with room for more poundage. “This is not reminiscent of an old, manual-loading washer,” he says. This is automated, he explains: no more bending now that the automated tunnel’s stacker brings linens to waist level. He says simply, “The employees are excited.”
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