IH moving laundry services to Okanagan

New 20-year contract will move current services from Nelson facility, impact 1.25 full-time equivalent job in Cranbrook.

Interior Health has signed a 20-year contract with an Abbotsford-based company to provide linen and laundry services, which will be carried out at a facility in the Okanagan.

The contract will affect operations at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, where laundry services are carried out for the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and the entire Kootenay region.

Karl Hardt, a spokesperson for Interior Health, notes that the new contract from Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Inc, will affect 1.25 full-time equivalent staffing at the EKRH.

“Regional distribution to our larger communities will occur with the support of the distribution centres, one of which will be located in Cranbrook (with others in Castlegar, Penticton and Kamloops,” wrote Hardt in an email to the Daily Townsman.

Other affected sites across Interior Health jurisdiction include Kelowna General Hospital, Penticton Regional Hospital, Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Smaller on-premise sites aren’t affected in areas such as Ashcroft, Lillooet, Golden, Princeton, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake.

“A clear case exists to proceed with outsourcing laundry services at our major facilities,” said Erwin Malzer, the IH board chair, in a press release. “With an anticipated savings of about $35 million over the life of the contract we will be able to increase our investment in facilities and equipment to support direct patient care, including necessary upgrades and expansions of our emergency departments and operating rooms.”

A total of 93-full time equivalent positions across the IH jurisdiction will be impacted by the decision.

Ecotex has has provided linen and laundry services for Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Provincial Health Services and Providence Health Care, among other clients.

The contract will result in Ecotex investing in a new Okanagan facility that will create 90-100 full time, unionized jobs with competitive wages and benefits.

“We are a proud Canadian company based in Abbotsford with operations in Canada and across the Western United States,” said Randy Bartsch, Ecotex president and CEO. “We are always looking at opportunities to expand and bring our eco-friendly approach to the health care sector.

We are excited to be in the Okanagan, investing in the region and creating local jobs.”

Interior Health anticipates that the carbon footprint of the service will be minimally impacted. Increased freight will be largely offset by a consolidated, more energy-efficient centralized facility, as IH believes that reducing the demand to produce and expand steam capability at the current five sites will positively impact the carbon footprint.