When Brenda Salo’s husband was admitted to the emergency department at Sudbury’s Health Sciences North Hospital, he didn’t have any clean sheets, blankets or pillow cases.
Salo said they had to use a clean diaper with some cleaning solution to wipe down his gurney.
In March 2017 the hospital outsourced its laundry services to Hamilton-based Mohawk MedBuy. Before then, nearly 30 workers washed the hospital’s linens at a local facility.
Health Sciences North made the switch because it said it would save $500,000 per year by cutting local laundry services.
I hear about linen issues at the hospital ever since they closed the shared hospital services.– France Gélinas, Nickel Belt MPP
Grant Beamish, Mohawk MedBuy’s director of business development and communications, said their facility had a “temporary disruption” last week because a key piece of equipment was broken.
Due to ongoing supply chain issues, it took longer than normal to get a replacement part, and the issue was resolved on Dec. 16, said Beamish.
In an email to CBC News, Health Sciences North spokesperson Jason Turnbull, said the emergency department, in particular, has faced some supply challenges for clean linens, “given high patient volumes, outbreaks, and other demands.”
Turnbull said the hospital is following up with its teams to mitigate those challenges and ensure the best possible care for patients and their families.
“HSN (Health Sciences North) appreciates how stressful a visit to the hospital can be and strives to ensure patients are as comfortable as possible,” the email said.
But Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas, the NDP health critic, said issues with the hospital’s laundry services date back to the change in service providers five years ago.
“I hear about linen issues at the hospital ever since they closed the shared hospital services,” she said.
Gélinas said constituents have told her some hospital linens were dirty, when they should have been cleaned, or weren’t properly folded.
And because Mohawk MedBuy relies on trucks to transport hospital linens north along Highway 69, they arrive late if the highway is closed.
“We have had about four closures of Highway 69 this fall,” Gélinas said.
She added it was not surprising that the hospital switched to a large service provider like Mohawk MedBuy to save money.
“Our hospitals have been facing flat zero base budget increases for, we’re close to a decade now,” Gélinas said.
“When they do get a base budget increase, we’re talking about a one per cent increase when inflation is at six per cent and inflation and the cost of medication is often at 10 and 12 per cent.”
She said if there was interest to bring hospital laundry services back to Sudbury, it would require all new facilities and equipment.
In 2017, Sudbury Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini wanted the city to study what it would have cost to keep the laundry facilities running, and if it was feasible. But that motion was narrowly defeated.
“They made the mistake of sending it down south,” Vagnini said.
“And they said, ‘If we have to, we’ll have two trucks.’ Well guess what? When the snow Blizzard hits or a truck breaks down, there may be only one truck, or no truck at all.”
Morning North7:20Having enough clean linens for some departments is an issue at times for Sudbury’s hospital