Forty-nine workers at a regional laundry in Cumberland are celebrating a new relationship with Island Health.
The Cumberland Regional Hospital Laundry Society (CRHLS) has dissolved as a society and joined the regional health authority.
The laundry, located on Ulverston Avenue in Cumberland, operates seven days a week and processes more than three million kilograms of laundry per year.
The plant provides services for the North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and the Comox Valley, as well as the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni.
The plant also processes laundry from 17 residential care facilities, medical clinics, health centres, and fire departments on Central Vancouver Island.
Island Health and the laundry workers celebrated their new relationship with a barbeque at the Cumberland plant on March 23.
Malcolm Pallos, the general manager of the CRHLS, said the new partnership will be beneficial for the facility’s workers. He said the few changes that come about will include a “more streamlined” and interactive approach to workplace and safety training.
“There will be better training available for them. A lot of online training for things like cultural safety, new employee training,” he said.
“I think from a support aspect it will be really good for that. We’ll have really good human resources support, payroll support and support from the finance department.”
The CRHLS formed in 1995. The facility launders sheets, blankets, towels, face cloths, bibs, patient gowns, housecoats, pyjama pants, baby blankets, baby jackets, bed pads, wheelchair pads, dishcloths, tea towels, and kitchen aprons.
According to Island Health, the catalyst for the transition was when acute care services at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox were transferred to the Comox Valley’s new hospital last fall. St. Joe’s relinquished its membership in the laundry society as a result.
Considering the hospitals in Nanaimo and Port Alberni had joined Island Health in 2001, it made sense for the health authority to operate the laundry.
“We’ve had a long-term partnership with them already, so it’s just a little bit of a change in that we’re no longer a society but a part of Island Health now,” said Pallos.
In a statement, Island Health said the transition was completed without any job losses. The Cumberland laundry’s two management officials and 47 FTE unionized staff were all offered transfers to Island Health.
“Costs will be reduced as there will be no duplication of administrative overhead,” reads the statement. “And now the laundry can directly leverage the strengths of Island Health’s purchasing power.”
The statement claimed the transition will not impact hospital patients or the laundry’s clients.
The laundry’s workers are under the Hospital Employees Union.