Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
New Laundry Facility
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas. Central Arkansas Veteran Healthcare System’s new 25,000 sq. ft. laundry facility washes, separates, irons folds and stacks a mountain of hospital linens, blankets and sheets every day, all without a wrinkle.
January 22 marked the beginning of operations at the facility on historic Fort Roots in North Little Rock, Arkansas, after more than a year of sending laundry out to other VA facilities while the plant was being modernized and renovated. The facility mainly serves the Eugene J. Towbin Medical Center in North Little Rock, and the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, but can accept laundry from other VA facilities.
The facility now gleams with high-tech machinery that is environmentally friendly, designed to lower gas costs and lower water usage. The new laundry facility also emphasizes workplace safety for a workforce that is currently comprised of about 20 U.S. military Veterans who enjoy ergonomically-designed work stations and impressive automation.
Soiled laundry is delivered to the top floor of the building via tractor trailer, separated and loaded into huge VA-blue bags that hang from a speedy automated monorail system. Bags are whisked to one of two massive washing tunnels, then to the dryers. At the “Blanket Blaster,” workers take still-warm-from-the-dryer blankets and feed them into a machine that spreads out the blanket, irons it, expertly folds it and drops it onto a neat stack of other folded blankets, all in the blink of an eye. Towels and sheets are run through similar speedy machines.
According to facility manager Darrell Hanible, the new system can produce about 20,000 lbs., of clean linen per day, or about four million pounds per year. “This is a milestone for us,” said Mr. Hanible. “Not only are we keeping costs down, we’re doing it in an efficient and environmentally-conscious manner.”
The facility also features a truck wash that sanitizes the truck and trailer after the soiled linen is removed, a central vacuum system for removing lint and debris from the floors and machinery, lint scrubbers to catch any airborne lint, and a cart washer to sanitize linen carts before they are returned to the medical centers.
“As a Veteran, I’m excited to see this come to fruition,” said Katherine Stolt, CAHVS’ chief of the Environmental Management Service. “This means we can take care of our Veterans better, and that’s what we’re all about.”Dr. Margie Scott, Medical Center director, and a group that included a Congressional staffer, CAVHS employees and contractors, toured the new facility and were impressed by the automation and the Veteran workforce. “This is just one step forward in realizing Secretary Shulkin’s modernization priority,” said Dr. Scott. “It’s exciting to see something that will truly benefit our Veterans.