November 25th, 2020

Next step in contracting out hospital laundry taken

By GILLIAN SLADE on October 24, 2020.

A vigil for Dr. Walter Reynolds, who was attacked and killed in Red Deer on Monday, will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at this entrance to the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.--FILE PHOTO

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

The next step on the pathway to privatizing laundry services at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital has been taken.

Alberta Health Services has released a request for proposals for private companies to submit bids to take over laundry services.

The RFP process will take about four months including reviewing all the submissions. When the changeover will actually take place depends on the selected contractors.

Across the province it will affect 428 full-time, part-time and casual employees currently working for AHS.

It is not clear how many will be affected in Medicine Hat but a couple of years ago there were 25 people in full-time and part-time positions and 12 casual staff in the hospital laundry department.

AHS says there may be employment opportunities for staff affected to be employed by the new contractors.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro issued a statement saying that AHS is working hard to find efficiencies and savings in the health system.

“By reinvesting savings from initiatives such as contracting out laundry services into the health system, we can improve patient care and ensure Albertans are provided with the best possible health care,” said Shandro.

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS, says a contracted model will eliminate the risk that the current outdated laundry infrastructure poses.

Four years ago Alberta Health Services first talked of aging infrastructure in the laundry department at MHRH. Although no dollar amount was attached to the department locally the NDP government revealed it would cost $200 million to upgrade aging laundry facilities throughout the province.

AHS says more than two-thirds of laundry services are already contracted out. Contracting out all laundry services will eliminate the need to spend more than $38 million in upgrades that would otherwise be immediately necessary to laundry infrastructure.

MHRH linen service includes the needs of the hospital, Brooks, Bassano and Bow Island hospitals plus some local seniors’ residences, Home Care and the Medicine Hat Recovery Centre.

The Ernst & Young review of AHS, released at the end of December 2019 stated that AHS already outsources 68 per cent of linen services and there were six AHS regional processing plants and 44 dedicated on-site facilities.

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