After raising the issue of outsourcing hospital laundry services, Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt is encouraged by a recent statement from the incoming new CEO of Interior Health.
Pratt has raised the issue at Regional District of East Kootenay board meetings over the last few months, concerned about the loss of jobs from Interior Health’s plan to outsource the laundry contract to the Lower Mainland.
However, incoming Interior Health CEO Chris Mazurkewich released a statement on Wednesday noting that he would like to review the decision.
“I plan to take additional time in reviewing the future of our laundry services,” Mazurkewich said in a press release. “Subsequently, a decision on the possibility of outsourcing the service will not occur until at least March 2016 when recommendations are presented to the IH Board of Directors for its consideration.
“This process has taken, unfortunately, longer than anyone anticipated, and I want to take the time to understand all of the complexities around this significant issue. I know that this may be frustrating to many of those who are anticipating a decision soon, and I appreciate the impact on our staff for the length of this process.”
Currently, most of the laundry services are out of Nelson in the West Kootenay, however, Interior Health recently noted that there needs to be significant capital upgrades to the equipment, which is why the contract was tendered out.
Pratt raised the issue at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September when meeting with government officials, but didn’t think much of an impression was made.
“I felt when I came back from UBCM, I met with the existing CEO of IHA and I didn’t think that went anywhere,” Pratt said. “Then I met with the Minister of Health after that and I thought it was basically kind of the same thing.”
However, Mazurkewich’s statement is a sign that maybe IHA is reconsidering their decision, added Pratt.
“I’m encouraged that they’re going to look at a review on it and what I would like to see is them re-tender it and with the re-tendering, give local people—I don’t just mean in Cranbrook—but local people in IHA’s area, a chance to bid on it,” Pratt said.
In order to bid on the contract, a service provider must have a line of credit of $15 million, which is a pretty steep financial commitment, said Pratt, who raised the point in August at a KERHB meeting.
Keeping the laundry service local also prevents any transportation issues that may arise if the highways—especially in the mountain passes—are shut down because of adverse weather conditions or traffic accidents.