Queen Victoria Hospital to lose its laundry service to Nelson

By David F. Rooney

In a move it says will save significant amounts of money, the Interior Health Authority has decided to begin sending all laundry from Queen Victoria Hospital and Mount Cartier Court to Nelson for cleaning rather than upgrade the hospital’s laundry facility.

Andrew Neuner, chief operating officer for the IHA’s Thompson Cariboo Shuswap Health Service Area, said in an interview that the IHA can save $60,000 to $70,000 in capital costs and between $20,000 and $30,000 in operating costs by transporting all laundry to a facility in Nelson. The long-distance transports are expected to begin in March.

The move will displace two workers, but Neuner was confident that one worker would likely be transferred to other duties and the other could be offered new employment when another job becomes available.

The Revelstoke local of the Hospital Employees Union expressed disappointment at the decision.

We are very disappointed in Interior Health’s decision to move our laundry to Nelson,” Shop Steward Carol Dolliver said Sunday.”We are not only concerned about our members that are being affected by this but also about the condition the laundry will come back in when it is only being picked up twice a week. We have been assured by management that the quality will be monitored closely.”

MLA Norm Macdonald was critical of the decision for a variety of reasons, not least of which is a potential health concern .

“The problem with it is that people in the community have raised the point that dirty laundry will be left for days in an environment where cleanliness is extremely important,” he said.

The laundry, which is to be taken to Nelson twice a week, includes not only soiled bedding, linen and other materials from the hospital and Mount Cartier Court but blankets and sheets from the BC Ambulance Service as well as those used to cover bodies taken to Brandon Bowers Funeral Home.

Macdonald was also concerned not only at the job loss but that there “was no discussion with the community” and he hoped the IHA would work to ensure that the job loss was not permanent.

“The other thing I would say is that these centralization attempts — and we’ve seen the IHA do this with scheduling and food services in other hospitals — produce little more than a loss of quality and a sense of false economy,” he said.