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Get to grips with infection through advanced laundering

29 May 2013

The risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) is an ever-present concern for healthcare providers. JLA says its ozone laundry disinfection can help

The risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) is an ever-present concern for healthcare providers. JLA says its ozone laundry disinfection can help

For many hospitals, surgeries and other sites, one of the major weapons in the battle against HAIs has proven to be ozone - a powerful natural disinfectant which kills 99.999% of HAI-causing bacteria - and has led to marked advancements in the battle against infections such as MRSA and C. difficile. Where HAIs are concerned, Otex makes it possible to focus on prevention rather than cure.

Otex ozone chemical disinfection from JLA harnesses the natural power of O3, to kill bacteria, moulds, yeasts and viruses and eliminate the risk of cross-infection in laundry. By converting air from around the washing machine into oxygen, splitting this to form ozone and injecting it into a wash, the system minimises the need for water heating, and safely lifts stains out of fibres in low or ambient temperatures to cut detergent costs by up to 55% and reduce water and energy costs by over 35%.

Of particular importance in modern day medicine is the effective laundering of mops and cloths; an area which is given surprisingly little emphasis, despite these contaminated items being reused on a daily basis and often moved from ward to ward.

York Hospital, the flagship hospital of York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was one of the first to install the Otex ozone disinfection system for the disinfection of its microfibre cloths and mops as part of its plan to bring domestic services back in-house.

The site opted for Otex as part of its defence against hospital-acquired infections, to which the Department of Health estimates around 5,000 deaths each year might be primarily attributable. 

Cutting costs

'Microfibre mops and cloths basically act like magnets for bacteria,' says Wendy Dale, domestic services manager at York Hospital. 'What impressed us most about JLA was its Otex innovation. The system's ability to thoroughly disinfect and also reduce costs was a major factor when it came to choosing them as our supplier.' Citing Otex as energy-efficient as well as key to infection control, Dale continues: 'Our laundry is in operation round the clock seven days a week, processing over 4,000 microfibre mops and cloths a day, so being able to save energy was vital. JLA actually metered the electricity supply to the laundry and established that Otex was saving us 82% compared to a conventional laundry. An added bonus is that we are using half as much detergent because of the way the system processes laundry.' The disinfection system, alongside the other main hospital initiatives such as weekly hand hygiene observations and MRSA screening, is so successful that York Hospital bosses recently announced the passing of a year without a patient acquiring the MRSA superbug infection.

'Our weekly internal audits involve different teams carrying out hygiene checks in all areas of the hospital and using red, amber and green to score them,' explains Dale. 'Since we introduced microfibre and Otex, the weekly green scores have been as high as 96% and on many weeks, there have been no red scores at all.' JLA believes Otex gives the NHS and other healthcare organisations the means to prove that their methods meet 'Essential Quality Requirements' or even 'Best Practices', as set out by the new Choice Framework for local Policy and Procedure (CFPP01-04). With the ability to print 'disinfection verification receipts', Otex users can comply with the guideline that 'linen should be processed using a disinfection cycle complying with the specified level of reduction in bacteriological contamination and this process will be required to be validated.' Training is provided by JLA on infection control procedures, and advice is also given on how to categorise contaminated or soiled linen, as well as the handling of laundered items.

JLA has built its understanding of what healthcare customers need over 40 years, and Otex ozone disinfection is the latest part of a long history of infection control in laundry, warewashing and sluice room equipment.

All JLA's machines are available through its total care package which offers customers machines with inclusive seven-day breakdown cover and a 24/7 helpline. Available for a simple monthly payment, total care also includes an eight-working hour engineer response guarantee, where customers are paid £100 if an engineer is not on-site in that time, as well as a promise of no repair bills, ever.