Historians have differing opinions on how Laundry & Linen Week began. Some say it was started by the precursor to the Association for Linen Management (ALM), NAILM. Some say it was started within the industry and NAILM just ran with it, perhaps we will never know. But the aspect they agree on is the purpose.
“The goal was to promote our industry within our institutions to let the people who work there be more aware of what the laundry personnel did,” said Jacque Prather, a retired 50-year ALM member and former ALM Board president. “It also lets the community realize we had a very important part of care of a patient.”
That echoes the sentiment from Janice Larson, CLLM, who will soon be retiring as vice president of clinical resources and consulting from Encompass Group LLC.
“When I first entered the laundry industry, National Laundry & Linen Week was focused on the laundry workers, as well as a chance to focus the nurses for a week on linen awareness,” said Larson. “Our sales reps would do giveaways.”
Recognizing the efforts by laundry personnel at all levels can help to improve employee morale, as well as open dialogue on how to save a laundry facility money, regardless of the type of linen processed.
“Certainly the people distributing the linen and those of us who process it would like to use it as a week that we can highlight the things we’re working on that will benefit our clients in the long run,” said Liz Remillong, vice president with Crothall Laundry. “We also use the week to educate clients on proper linen use.”
Whether the facility processes hospitality or hospital linens, ensuring linens are not thrown into the trash unnecessarily, items are not wrapped up into the linens when they’re put in soiled bags, or pieces of tape or stickers are not left on sheets can save tremendous time in the sort and wash process, which ultimately decreases costs for all parties.
“Having workers at every step of the linen chain be aware of how to effectively manage laundry will help the business’ bottom line,” said Linda Fairbanks, ALM Executive Director. “Healthcare and hospitality may differ on some things, but the overall need to produce clean, quality linen efficiently and effectively is universal.”
ALM is making a concerted effort to better explain the value to having a week focused on linen and the industry. Sharing ideas and staying agile in an ever-changing environment is essential to being successful.
“Regardless of what type of laundry facility you’re working with, linen awareness is something that end users need to know,” said Nicole Morris, ALM Marketing & Communications Manager. “ALM serves every laundry, regardless of size or type, because quality matters. Linen matters. All the things we look at as an association, members of the textile industry need to know.”
Even more important than the bottom line are the people touched by the linen. Ensuring hospital patients, hotel guests, or elderly in long-term care facilities have good quality, clean linen can greatly affect their experience and health.
“A hospital can’t operate without good linens, and the laundry worker is forgotten sometimes,” said Prather. “National Laundry & Linen Week is to make the laundry more understood and more appreciated.”