New laundry plant won’t necessarily be built in Kelowna

Interior Health says a new private hospital laundry facility will be built in the Okanagan, but not necessarily in Kelowna.

Interior Health says a new private hospital laundry facility will be built in the Okanagan, but not necessarily in Kelowna as reported last week.

“The exact location of Ecotex’s laundry plant has not yet been determined, but it is our understanding it will be located in the Okanagan,” Interior Health said in a prepared statement.

The new facility is expected to open in mid-2017 and have 90 to 100 full-time unionized jobs.

Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Inc. has signed a 20-year contract with the health authority that will result in the privatization of hospital laundries in Nelson, Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, and Kamloops. It will mean 17 people out of work in Nelson and the loss of 93 full-time equivalent public sector positions overall.

A publicist for Ecotex said president and CEO Randy Bartsch is out of the country and unavailable for interviews, but issued a statement on his behalf.

“We are a proud Canadian company based in Abbotsford with operations in Canada and across the western United States,” Bartsch said. “We are always looking at opportunities to expand and bring our eco-friendly approach to the health care sector. We are excited to be in the Okanagan, investing in the region and creating local jobs.”

Bartsch’s parents started Ecotex Inc. in 1959 in Abbotsford as a commercial laundry and dry-cleaning business. It’s now known as Ecotex Heathcare Linen Service Inc., and remains based in BC. A sister company, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service Corp., was established in 1974 in Washington state and is based in Seattle, although it is also Canadian-owned.

The two companies have a single website, which until last week indicated Ecotex was Seattle-based, but that notation has since been deleted. Management, including Bartsch, are listed with Seattle phone numbers.

Bartsch said given the company’s recent growth in Canada which included the announcement last week that it has reached an agreement to acquire Booth Centennial Healthcare Linen Services in Greater Toronto it will create a parallel website for its Canadian operations.

Ecotex expanded into contract health care laundry in 1982 and has provided services to Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Provincial Health Services, and Providence Health Care. It also has clients in Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The move to contract out laundry services has been blasted by the Hospital Employees’ Union, which represents the soon-to-be-laid off workers, and Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall.

Interior Health says the move will save $35 million over the life of the contract.

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