Concerns are being raised by the Saskatchewan NDP over the quality of linens and laundry being done by the private company doing it for the healthcare system.
Back in 2015, the Saskatchewan Health Authority began to transition towards using a private company, Alberta-based K-Bro Linens, rather than in-house facilities.
Earlier this month, the NDP brought an incident to light, where a home-made knife was found inside a clean blue stretcher sheet at a Melville long-term care facility back in October 2017.
“No family should have to worry about their loved one not receiving properly cleaned and inspected laundry when they’re in the care of the health authority,” Danielle Chartier said in a written release.
Former laundry staff members have also voiced concerns over the quality of the linens.
Sandra Seitz is the president of CUPE Local 5430 and is a former laundry worker in the healthcare system. She said she has heard similar complaints from their members.
“Fish hooks in the bedspread and the quality of linen is just not the same as it was when done in-house,” Seitz said, indicating some of the sheets come back with stains and holes in them.
She said it was very rare for sharp objects to find their way into the clean laundry when it was done at the hospitals. Seitz noted the laundry was all sorted individually.
“So there were all those safety checks before when you were doing that laundry to ensure you caught things before they went through the machine.”
Sean Jackson, general manager of K-Bro Linen systems in Regina, said their staff removes foreign articles as they are found but admits sometimes, on the rare occasion, an item can find its way back into the clean linen.
“We’re working with our partners on the health authority side; there’s a campaign we’re working on to bring awareness to it and reduce it as much as we can,” Jackson said.
He added they receive all of the linens from across the province and sort them based on things like soil factor and colour. It’s then washed, dried and then processed before getting shipped back out.
“Not only do we do checks on the soil side of the plant but on the clean side as well. We have a full-time quality control staff that goes around and checks the linen as well.”
Jackson said there were quality concerns about the linens before they had taken over the contract.
“I think I would actually say the quality has improved; we’ve got regular audits that are performed on our linens weekly, monthly and quarterly — it’s something I think was there before we were involved as well.”
He said they’ve installed additional sort and check systems since the incident to help ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future.
“It’s continuous improvements; we always want to get better. We’re a part of the patient experience and we always want to find ways to get better.”