How many of you have been in the situation where you need to go out and select a linen services provider but don’t know where to begin? You might be in this situation because there have been numerous service-related issues with your current provider that have fallen on deaf ears and it’s time to make a change.  Completely changing out your outsourced linen services vendor is a large undertaking. The following are a few things to keep in mind during the selection process:

1. Quality, Selection, & Availability –  Are you satisfied with the quality, selection and availability of items with your current vendor or do you need something completely new? Does your facility require special garments for special patient populations (e.g. pediatric, hyperbaric, hypoallergenic, obese)?
2. Cost & Charges –  Are the charges based on pound price for clean linen, cost per item or a mixture of both? Does the vendor maintain current Weighmaster Certification on the scale used to weigh charged loads? Are there charges for special linen items in addition to the regular charge? How do they charge for replacements?
3. Service Days & Special Deliveries –  Can the vendor provide service 7 days a week if needed? If you run out of an item, is the vendor prepared to make a special delivery to your location, even if its just for a bundle of washcloths? Are garments delivered daily, weekly or biweekly? Be aware of how this will impact your operations in the OR (Operating Room) especially if there is no type of scrub control available, such as a scrub dispenser.  You may find yourself running short and adjusting by a higher than needed par level. When deliveries are made are they left at the dock or does the linen driver pull your load all the way to your clean linen storage area?  Transporting linen could be a big concern and drain on your labor resources if your facility uses a large amount of linen on a daily basis.
4. Invoicing & Billing –  This is where you may get the “David Copperfield” effect.  Is the invoicing easy to decipher or does it look like smoke and mirrors?  Meaning are the linen items broken out by type and quantity, pound price, piece price or both. Basically, does the math add up as stated in your services contract?
5. Linen Management & Reports –  Does the potential new vendor provide or offer linen management services to help meet the demand of linen items with adjustable par levels for each Nursing/Ancillary area? Is their management program web based and/or handheld device-capable and does it take hospital HIPAA requirements into consideration?
6. Experience & Certification –  Is your potential vendor an existing entity or are they a new player breaking into the healthcare realm of textile services?  The latter type of companies tend to not understand the dynamics involved in healthcare laundry, such as maintaining an average 3 to 1 ratio for linen items to patient.  Most are making the switch from uniform and matting to healthcare linens in an effort to grow their business.  Make sure your linen provider is certified through the HLAC (The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council) to avoid these headaches.When all is said and done there is really a lot to consider in selecting a linen vendor. Hopefully, these tips will get you off to a good start.

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