Over the weekend I visited an urgent care facility with my 3 year old niece who was complaining of chest pains (false alarm thank goodness) and as we were waiting to be seen by the doctor I scanned the room and thought – how often are these privacy drapes laundered? Knowing how easily bacteria and diseases can spread and the constant pulling and tugging on the curtains by staff, sick patients and visitors made me hesitant to even go near them. If you have ever been in a clinic, hospital or other type of medical establishment you realize that just about every room is equipped with a set of these drapes – thousands of healthcare facilities all over the country use this affordable method to ensure their patients privacy.
So how often do you think they are laundered? Daily? Weekly? Well it turns out not as often as you would think. In fact it is normal for medical facilities to launder these drapes anywhere from 6 months to a year in between. Imagine how much dirt, bacteria and other types of debris can accumulate in a year’s time on these curtains? Also plenty of laundries don’t even provide laundry service for these drapes! Laundries make most of their money on the rental of linens and uniforms and the majority facilities own the drapes they hang up, which makes it even more difficult to get them laundered.
So how can medical facilities keep their patients, staff and visitors safe from bacteria spreading from these curtains to other places? Well after stumbling across all of this information on the drapes I decided to do a little online research. There are materials available that are antimicrobial which the drapes can be made out of but they are optional and much more expensive than the usual cotton blend/polyester curtains. There are also fabric protectors that can be used to stop the spread of bacteria found on these drapes in between laundry cycles. While all these options are okay, the best is to partner with a certified healthcare specific commercial linen and laundry company. These companies spend tons of money on specialized healthcare laundering equipment specific to the needs of the medical industry. They should have one of the following certifications (http://www.laundrycompliance.com/laundry-certification/) to prove they are knowledgeable and have been approved to launder highly infectious and pathogen containing items.
What procedures does your facility follow to keep your drapes bacteria and disease free?
For any of your healthcare linen, uniform and laundry service compliance questions visit www.laundrycompliance.com.