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Date ArticleType
7/9/2018 Regulatory
Laundry Management: Infection Prevention and Control

By Barb Rettig, Healthcare Specialist, Calderon Textiles, LLC

According to the website, Infection Control Today, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are the leading cause of death in long term care facilities, numbering almost 400,000 annually.  With the “Silver Tsunami” approaching over the next 10-15 years, this segment of healthcare will be at added risk of HAIs.  While isolation is the first measure in any Infection Prevention and Control Program (IPCP), long term care residents are more mobile than those in acute care, causing infections to spread more rapidly. What to do? Dr. Fontaine Sands, Associate Professor at Eastern Kentucky University, offers three practical measures for IPCP in long term care:

  • Ask family members to bring in clothing that can sustain high laundry temperatures or chlorine bleach.  
  • Bag clothing and linens in the room of a resident with a possible or known infection, rather than taking them to a common soiled cart. 
  • Process laundry on the unit, if possible, instead of in the main laundry area. 

As always, keep clean and soiled linens separated in all areas and carry linen away from oneself. Fold soiled linens inward and keep in a covered container.  Avoid shaking soiled linen, bagging anything going down a laundry chute to minimize dispersion. Keep clean linen carts out of resident rooms; remove only what’s neededand store it immediately in a plastic bag before entering the room.  Educate your staff about possible infections they may be dealing with.

Keep your building clean and dry.  Wipe down laundry equipment.  The CDC recommends leaving washing machines open to air dry when not in use, preventing the growth of microorganisms. Dust resident rooms thoroughly and launder privacy curtains regularly. Clean from top to bottom, leaving dirtiest surfaces for last, and replace floor mop pads frequently. Dry clean dishes and cookware completely before putting them away. All surfaces where food is kept or “prepped” should be clean and dry. Ensure that shower curtains and liners are cleaned on a regular basis.  Dust ceiling fans and vents throughout the building. For isolation rooms, allow extra time for cleaning and wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) appropriately.

So, how can Calderon partner with you in your IPCP? Glad you asked. Our infection control products can help!

For laundry, we recommend Meltaway bags, which are strong, impermeable and dissolve in the wash cycle.  Regular hamper bags are another option.  Antimicrobial items available include:  pillowcases, gait belts, sling seats, mattress pads, side rail pads and wedge cushions.  Pillow protectors or colored, “dedicated” pillowcases can be used for residents with a possible or known infection.  We suggest our reusable isolation gowns, which also decrease the environmental footprint.

For cleaning, we’ve got you covered!  Calderon’s microfiber mops are great for hard-to-reach places and are best for floor care. For blood or body fluid spills, a cotton mop provides more absorbency. Our innovative, reusable LOOPower cleaning towel has greater pick-up and retention capability, providing the benefits of microfiber while maintaining the strength of chemical solutions.  Calderon’s kitchen towels dry dishes and cookware quickly and thoroughly.

Finally, we know handwashing is the single best way to prevent the spread of disease, and lack of proper hand hygiene is one of the most common reasons a community gets cited for F880 (Infection Control). Unfortunately, we have no magic product for this.  If in doubt about a “hand hygiene moment,” err on the side of caution and perform appropriate hand hygiene.  After all, no one has ever received a citation  for washing their hands too often! 

Together, we can help prevent and reduce the spread of infection!

For more information about Calderon Textiles, visit http://calderonhealth.com/ or contact Angie Wright, Healthcare Account Exectuive at awright@calderontextiles.com.