Letter: Privatizing hospital laundries ‘would be disastrous’

I am fighting to keep our laundry service in-house…How much more do we, the public, the working poor, taxpayers need to sacrifice?

To the editor:

B.C. jobs for B.C. families? This apparently does not mean the families of the 179 hospital laundry workers throughout B.C.’s Interior.

Laundry is a major part of the day-to-day running of a hospital. The running of our hospital laundries costs less than one per cent of the entire yearly budget.

A Request for Solution has been sent forth to outside private companies to take over our laundry services. If approved, this will affect five major and six smaller hospitals, and will be the end of one of the decent paying jobs B.C. has to offer.

Millionaires are getting tax breaks and certain officials are reaping the benefits of raises and bonuses. This is a perfect example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Some of the laundries do have aging infrastructure and equipment. Kelowna General Hospital just received a brand new press (kind of like a spin cycle washer) last February at a cost of $330,000. If approved, what will happen to that brand new piece of equipment?

Privatizing the laundry within our hospitals would be disastrous. If this happens, we will have more semi-trucks driving in and out of our city; as most of these private companies are mostly located in the Lower Mainland.

More noise, more traffic, more air pollution. What happens in the winter when there are road closures? Where will our linen be? There is also a high risk of the linen being wet when shipped back to us, resulting in moldy unusable linen. The spreading of seriously contagious infections such as C difficile will become higher.

Our hospital has grown significantly over the years and will continue to grow, meaning the use of linen will become greater. What happens when there isn’t enough linen on hand?

Sure, we could get more delivered at an extra added cost. The private companies are all about making a profit after all. Also, as a result of not enough linen, the use of disposables will become higher, resulting in more waste in our landfills. Not a very ‘green’ way to go.

KGH is one of the most efficient laundries in the country. Representatives from all of Canada and the U.S. have come to Kelowna to observe our running system and implement it back in their own hospital laundries. On a daily average, KGH puts through around 17,000 lbs. of linen within 16 hours. KGH keeps up with the demand of the entire hospital and surrounding care facilities.

I am fighting to keep our laundry service in-house. Linen may be a small thing to some, but to someone who is sick, a clean blanket may be the only comfort they receive.

How much more do we, the public, the working poor, taxpayers need to sacrifice? How much more are we willing to lose? How much are you willing to fight?

Jessica Guthrie

West Kelowna