For Immediate Release
November 29, 2011
Saskatoon – SEIU-West leaders and members met with representatives of Saskatoon Health Region yesterday to hear the announcement of the immediate closure of the Central Laundry facility.
“Staff are sad and set back on their heels with the news delivered yesterday regarding the closure of Central Laundry. Many have acknowledged that this was a facility in bad need of repairs; however, with a family atmosphere and dedication to their work, they had continued providing top-notch laundry services,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West.
Central Laundry processes approximately six million pounds of laundry per year. A ceiling-mounted hydraulic hoist suffered a catastrophic failure on November 5, 2011, resulting in almost 3000 pounds of laundry falling and narrowly missing staff who were working on the wash floor.
Saskatoon Health Region senior leadership have shown a great deal of respect for the health and safety of laundry workers by making this tough decision to close the facility; face to face meetings were held with workers and representatives of SEIU-West, along with a question and answer session.
Saskatoon Health Region is the largest health region in the province. With approximately 100 employees, Central Laundry provided scrubs, sheets, blankets, and towels throughout the Health Region including rural communities.
“This closure will bring job loss, however, it will also affect both the Health Region and the larger public to our detriment,” said Renny Woytowich, a leader and worker in Central Laundry. “We will experience increased costs related to trucking laundry to and from facilities in PA and Regina, and we will see costly delays in access to laundry, including items such as isolation gowns for potential outbreaks which are necessary for infection control. Reliance upon disposable items also translates to increased cost.”
“Saskatoon Health Region is one of the largest regions in the province and they need a dedicated permanent laundry facility,” said Cape. “The people who work here are an important part of patient safety and infection control. It is important to have local laundry services in order to mitigate any cross contamination between geographical locations and to ensure a steady supply of sanitary products for patients.”
Promises of a new laundry facility have been ongoing for years, however, the Ministry of Health has not been able to dedicate the needed funds to replace this facility. A committee made up of workers from Central Laundry will be requesting a meeting with the Health Minister to begin discussions about a new laundry facility for the Region. Saskatoon Health Region and SEIU-West are committed to building a plan that will respect the long service of the many employees.
SEIU-West represents approximately 12,000 Health Care providers across Saskatchewan.
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For more information, contact:
Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator – 306.652.1011 ext. 2250