Cariboo Memorial Hospital laundry service employees Michele Frances (left)

Cariboo Memorial Hospital laundry service employees Michele Frances (left)

Laundry services retained at hospital

Hospital laundry workers in Williams Lake to retain their jobs.

Hospital laundry workers in Williams Lake say it’s bitter sweet they get to keep their jobs.

Michele Frances, along with her co-workers Dawn Gardner, Barb Olah and Candice Farnsworth said they learned Tuesday during a conference call Interior Health will be contracting out laundry services in Kelowna, Nelson, Penticton, Vernon and Kamloops, while services in Golden, Ashcroft, Princeton, 100 Mile House, Lillooet and Williams Lake will remain in-house.

“There is still a chance we could be bumped and we feel for other communities where people are losing their jobs,” said Frances who has worked at Cariboo Memorial Hospital since 1997 and in the laundry services since 2006.

The health authority has signed a 20-year contract with Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Inc. to provide the majority of linen and laundry services through a centralized Okanagan-based facility, supported by regional distribution centres, beginning in summer 2017.

Throughout the last year as Interior Health  deliberated on whether to privatize laundry services or not, the laundry employees at CMH worried about the impact contracting out would have on the hospital, they said.

Often they find things such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, even medical instruments, in amongst the linens.

If the laundry is sent to a central place those things would be lost and never returned to their owners, they said.

Throughout the deliberations the Hospital Employees’ Union held a comprehensive campaign, said HEU communications manager Brenda Whitehall as she praised Williams Lake city council for passing a motion in June 2015 protesting the privatization.

“A lot of public pressure was put on and I’m glad some jobs were saved, but it is quite devastating to lose more than 100 jobs in major cities in the Interior,” Whitehall said.

In announcing its decision Interior Health said a clear financial case exists to proceed with the outsourcing.

“With an anticipated savings of about $35 million over the life of the contract we will be able to increase our investment in facilities and equipment to support direct patient care, including necessary upgrades and expansions of our emergency departments and operating room,” said IH board chair Erwin Malzer in a press release.

Whitehall, however, argued that privatization never saves moLaundry services retained at hospitalney.

“It has been proven time and time again that it costs more,” she said.Hospital laundry workers in Williams Lake say it’s bitter sweet they get to keep their jobs.