Okanagan hospital laundry jobs could be hung out to dry

In house laundry services may soon be a thing of the past at Penticton Regional Hospital.

In house laundry services may soon be a thing of the past at Penticton Regional Hospital.

On Wednesday, the Interior Health Authority notified staff of plans to explore options for the future of laundry services, including outsourcing to the private sector.

IHA currently has five large and six small laundry sites with 175 employees. Outsourcing would directly impact staff at Penticton Regional Hospital, which operates one of the large laundries, with 18 full-time equivalent staff.

It’s not the first time outsourcing has been discussed, but previous discussions haven’t resulted in any changes. This time, however, IH said the existing equipment and infrastructure is reaching the end of its operational life.

Interior Health is not in a position to make significant investments in laundry, but rather place priority on the most pressing patient care needs such as medical equipment, and development of new or upgraded patient care spaces,” according to IHA’s press release.

IHA spends about $10 million a year to operate the laundry service and it’s believed about $10.5 million is needed over the next several years to replace equipment such as washing machines. Lori Holloway, regional director of facilities management, said the possibility of outsourcing is not about reducing operational costs.

The challenge we face is finding capital dollars for equipment and infrastructure which require significant capital investment over next few years,” said Holloway. “We are looking at options to limit increased capital investments across the health authority, which are not sustainable in the future.”

In 2008, Bill Kirkland, then Interior Health’s regional laundry services director, developed a new style of hospital gown in Penticton that not only gave the patients more coverage, but cut down on laundry costs and improved productivity. Holloway said they won’t be losing that kind of innovation by outsourcing.

Our staff have been innovative over the years, and helped improve operational efficiency at our laundry sites,” said Holloway. “If the service was contracted out IH would work collaboratively with a contracted provider to improve innovation and efficiencies.”

The earliest any changes could occur is April 2016, but the Health Employees Union hopes privatization can be stopped.

We’re really disappointed IHA is considering contracting out,” said Mike Old, HEU communications director. “Clearly these are important jobs to our members, their families and their communities. They deliver a quality service to the health care system.”

Old says the union will participate in the consultation process with IHA.

Our experience is that contracting out results in lower wages for employees and less control over the service by the health authority,” he said.

We will try and make sure we protect these jobs and the service.”

 

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read