South Florida Hospital News
Friday May 29, 2020
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May 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 11

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Then and Now - ImageFIRST Responds to Pandemic

Just a few short months ago, healthcare concerns over linens, scrubs, uniforms, towels, privacy curtains, patient gowns and robes were solved by ImageFIRST Customer Advocates (backed by a support team in service/operations) who focused on an inventory management and stocking protocol that supported a worry-free relationship. This allowed hospital and medical facilities to focus on their patients not their linens.

But … that was a time with no fears or warnings about a pandemic that would cause loss of life and respiratory illness for millions around the world. There were no anxieties of businesses closing, no hoarding of toilet paper or non-perishables, no concerns over face masks and gloves and no race for available ventilators, ICU beds or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
 
Unfortunately, that time is now. Fortunately, long before the current COVID-19 pandemic classification by U.S. Department of Homeland Security of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” ImageFIRST, the nation’s largest and most respected healthcare linen rental and laundry service provider dedicated to the medical market, ranked staff and patient safety and customer service their top priority.
 
According to Jay Juffre, Executive Vice President, all 41 company locations remain committed to taking care of their customers’ needs, maintaining the safety of their Associates (employees) and preserving the highest levels of customer service, linen sanitation, and cleanliness with added precautions (above and beyond required). Several plants have now expanded schedules of operation from 4 to 7 days to serve clients and unanticipated needs. Now, for patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, the engrained ImageFIRST ‘can-do’ culture prevails and is bolstered with a crisis strategy that assumed and prepared for the worst. Consequently, the pandemic is a challenge ImageFIRST is prepared to meet.
 
Above the Curve and Ready Response
Some Business Continuity plan highlights put ImageFIRST ahead of the curve to meet FEMA-directed initiatives in fighting this challenge:
• Increasing core product inventory by over 40%
• Implementing detailed contingency plans across all national locations, ensuring backup of processing, should it become necessary
• Enhancing Infection Control and Safety procedures (at or above CDC, HLAC, TRSA guidelines)
• Building a secured inventory of PPE items, assuring associates are safe and able to work
• Initiating a pre-shift health and temperature check for all associates
• Increased staffing and bench roster of candidates
• Identifying and segregating any product potentially contaminated with COVID-19
• Continual monitoring of CDC, WHO and other agencies to stay current in all recommended procedures
 
Sanitizing Steps in Place Prepare for Pandemic
The wash process is the first step to cleaning the laundry – both the visible and invisible dirt. But ImageFIRST effective cleaning pushes the envelope beyond hygienically clean, ensuring all laundry is segregated and sanitized. After that, a bacteria-inhibiting softener is applied to provide a “bio-shield” that isolates pathogens and prevents them from spreading.
 
Preventing Recontamination
Next, linens are cleaned, folded and packaged in plastic to protect them from dirt and prevent recontamination during travel to and while inside client facilities.
 
Juffre commented that the heightened infection prevention and sanitation thresholds are standard for ImageFIRST customers, but during the pandemic, Customer Advocates servicing clients have such a rooted solution-minded sense of service they have stories of many atypical partnerships including: overnight turnaround of products like barrier gowns to help non-customers as backup to regular linen services; supporting transition of outpatient facilities and surgery centers to temporary COVID-19 care centers; participating in the supply chain of FEMA initiated projects such as repurposing of hotels and convention centers to transform into MASH units - all requiring an expansion of their broad base of linen and healthcare attire services. Even the USS Comfort has been in touch to prepare for potential patient influx and service overflow capacity.
 
“Above and beyond our elevated threshold of cleaning and sanitization of products, ImageFIRST provides management systems for inventory planning, access and control, employee safety upon pick-up, and management guidance and/or implementation regarding some facilities’ conversion from disposable to reusable rental linens to assure clients maintain compliance with all guidelines,” Juffre said.
 
As scientists discover new ways the virus transmits, there is a mind shift among healthcare providers regarding safety precautions to ensure infection control for their patients and their staffs. There is no skimping on precautionary measures when the ultimate goal is to not only care for patients but to flatten the curve and prevent future infections. For ImageFIRST, that translates to heightened expectations for access to gowns and linens.
 
“It is satisfying to be able to meet needs as a result of proactive pre-crisis planning but truly inspiring to see that every employee perceives his/her role as vital and recognizes that healthy attendance is the norm; using all precautions to maintain their own health in order to provide service is a given,” he said.
 
Future Preparedness
At ImageFIRST, each and every one demonstrates first-hand knowledge of the battle that healthcare providers - at all levels - are fighting. And they are not only ready to arm them with enough sanitized product on hand but also thinking about the “new normal” that will follow the current crisis.
 
“We are preparing to be nimble with staffing and inventory procedures to accommodate when providers will experience a tidal wave of delayed yet vital elective procedures to schedule for their patients. We are anticipating a future high demand for continuing worry-free assurance of quality linens, staff and patient apparel delivery with the ultimate in safely sanitized procedures supporting recovery,” Juffre predicts.
 
In times of social distancing, fear of the unknown and the inevitable impact from the virus, take a moment to note vendors who are going above and beyond as some of the remarkables and we’ll see you on the other side of this global pandemic.

For more information, visit www.imagefirst.com or call (800) 368-3676.

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