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As alternate director for RDCK Area E I toured Kootenay Lake Hospital Feb. 25 before the West Kootenay-Boundary Regional District Hospital Board meeting.
A plant supervisor took us through the laundry. He told us the equipment was good for another 11 years. Yet the IHA’s press release quoted in the Feb. 13 Nelson Star said privatizing would “avoid significant capital costs associated with replacing industrial laundry equipment.”
These two statements clearly don’t jibe. Interior Health (along with Vancouver’s Coastal Health) wants to contract out all its 15 regional laundries to a single corporation, so it appears that Kootenay Lake Hospital’s laundry is being sacrificed because some bigger Interior Health laundry needs new equipment the health authority has not budgeted for.
Interior Health has confirmed no business in the BC interior is capable of handling this amount of hospital laundry, so the contract will go to the Lower Mainland, exporting over a hundred jobs out of our rural area. In addition to more trucks and drivers, this will cost the contractor more gas and cause both more road repairs and more pollution and global warming. How can this save us money?
Private companies pay higher insurance costs and higher interest rates on borrowed funds than government entities. In addition they need to make a profit. How can this save taxpayers’ money?
The only answer I see is to pay the workers less, and perhaps have fewer workers. This usually leads to high turnover, which means fewer trained workers. Infection control in hospitals is a very serious business. Laundries are one of the keys. Are we risking our residents’ health by implementing this contracting out?