MLA responds to laundry issue

Eric Foster provides information on plans for laundry at hospitals

Interior Health’s laundry service facilities are aging and will require significant investment to bring them up-to-date in the coming years.

Health authorities only have so much money for capital projects, and need to focus their dollars as much as possible on direct patient care, such as for new medical equipment, upgrades to aging health facilities and new patient care beds and spaces.

In November, Interior Health began exploring options for best delivering this service under these circumstances, including going to the private sector to see what companies have to offer.

We know that a number of people will be affected by this process. The health authority spent 90 days consulting with the union to determine if they could develop an alternative and affordable solution. The parties could not find a sustainable solution, so Interior Health is now moving forward with the next step of this process, seeking a request for solutions from the marketplace.

A request for solutions provides the health authority with flexibility to implement the best solution for the each community. In some cases, this may mean services remain in-house. A decision on a contract or contracts is expected later this summer. The earliest a transition of laundry services would take place would be spring 2016.

Interior Health will work with staff and the union through any changes.

The $10 million that Interior Health would need to put towards upgrading laundry facilities will now be able to directly benefit patient care. It is also important to note that the investments that we are making in health care in these communities, such as the $80 million clinical services building in Kamloops and the $381 million Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at Kelowna, will create far more jobs than will be affected by any changes to laundry services.

Laundry services have already been successfully contracted out by Lower Mainland and Island health authorities, allowing any money saved to go to enhancing direct patient care.

Eric Foster, MLA