Linen loss is a common occurrence in the healthcare and hospitality industries. Linens refer to sheets, bedding, towels, and cleaning cloths, as well as hospitality and medical uniforms. In the United States, linen losses account for more than $840 million dollars in healthcare industries alone. Exact figures for the hospitality industry are harder to determine, since there are large hotel chains, independent franchises, cruise ships, and other such operations under the hospitality umbrella, but it is most likely just as much, if not more than healthcare industries.
What can you do to help reduce and prevent linen loss in your healthcare or hospitality operation? Start by taking a physical inventory of all linens you have on hand. The only way to track losses is to know exactly how many linens you have onsite. You would be surprised by the number of operations which simply rely upon their uniform service to track this information.
If you already have a supply of linens on hand before contracting with the service to sell, rent, or lease your linens, you truly have no idea of an exact number of linens on hand. The service only goes by the information they have, in regards to the number of items they provide you. If you also utilize laundry service through your uniform and linen supplier, the volume varies from week to the next. The service only tracks the number of items they receive and the number returned to your operation.
Once you have a physical inventory of all of your linens, the next step is to educate your employees. A good portion of linen loss is due to employees tossing soiled linens into the trash or red hazard disposal bags, simply because of a lack of proper training. Most types of soiled linens are able to be disinfected and sterilized using the right laundering methods, so they can be reused again. Get in the habit of performing routine garbage checks to ensure linens are not accidentally being thrown out.
Another big source of linen loss is people. From patients and resort guests, to your employees, linens are taken home. Again, the key to stopping patients and guests from stealing linens is by better educating your employees. For instance, at a hotel, your employees should inform guests that the linens in their room have been inventoried and that any missing linens, after they leave, will be charged to their credit card on file. In medical facilities, have nurses and other support staff inform patients there is a charge if they take home blankets, sheets, pillows, scrubs, or other linens.
There are two specific areas you need to address for employee linen losses. The first one is uniform loss. To reduce uniform losses, keep a record of when the employee received their uniforms and how many uniforms were supplied. The second one is your linen inventories. It can be tempting to take home sheets, towels, cleaning cloths, and other linens. A viable solution is to inspect employees’ bags as they exit the facility to verify they are not stealing linens. For further information and suggestions on how to control linen losses, or a free linen assessment, contact Prudential Overall Supply at 800-767-5536 now.