Medical spas are proliferating across the country; they accounted for eight percent of the 20,000 spas in the United States last year, according to the industry study commissioned by the International Spa Association. There are many convenient medical spas that offer safe, physician supervised treatments and which utilize commercial healthcare facility laundries to minimize any risk of spreading infection. However, for those providing treatments outside of the physician's office, there are no national standards for medical spas, no recognized definition of what constitutes a medical spa, and no oversight organizations to ensure that medical spa facilities have infection prevention procedures in place.
Both medical spas and day or luxury spas have in common, is that they often launder their own sheets and towels in ordinary washers and dryers that do not deliver hygienically clean linens, putting their clients at risk for healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) and other easily transmitted skin diseases and infections. In contrast, other healthcare facilities such as hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers are under increased scrutiny and regulation to develop superior infection prevention programs due tothe alarming rise in HAIs. Laundry tends to be the most outsourced department and while commercial laundries certainly improve hospital efficiencies and are better for the environment, quality control, infection control, and other safety issues are still a concern. Medical spas should take note.
So, what are the recommended quality practices and processes for medical spa and day spa laundry operations, and how can commercial healthcare laundries like Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply deliver hygienically clean textiles that minimize any risk of spreading infection? Accreditation—the industry's highest rating on quality and safety—from the Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) provides assurance that spa textiles, just like healthcare textiles, cleaned by a company that adheres to the highest possible standards. The HLAC is a non‐profit organization formed for the purpose of inspecting and accrediting laundries processing healthcare textiles for hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Standards incorporate stringent requirements for healthcare linen processing that addresses proper techniques for washing and extraction, drying, finishing, quality control, packaging, storage, and delivery to the healthcare facility. They ensure that healthcare textiles processed at an HLAC-accredited laundry plant carry negligible risk to healthcare workers and patients, providing the clean products are not inadvertently contaminated before use.
Additionally, proper wash formulas in the laundering process are constantly monitored to assure consistent delivery of hygienically clean linens, adequately removing any “bio-burden” so they can be used without fear of being a contamination source. Wash water quality and usage, temperature, pH, oxidation, chemical sanitizers, drying, ironing and equipment performance are all carefully controlled. The HLAC also incorporates the Occupational Safety and Health Care Act(OSHA) Standard Precautions that must be included as part of a healthcare laundry’s daily operations in order to protect its employees who handle and sort soiled healthcare linens.
P.J. Dempsey is president of Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply, a family-owned company founded in 1959 offering linen services and medical uniform rentals. The company is recognized for its high quality products, industry-tailored, cost-cutting service solutions and cutting edge, environmentally friendly laundry technologies.