Wendy Dale, Domestic Services Manager at York Hospital, explains how the revolutionary OTEX ozone disinfection system is helping to cut HAIs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, by eradicating bacteria on microfibre mops and cloths.
York Hospital, the flagship of York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, installed OTEX for microfibre cloths and mops as part of a plan to bring domestic services back in-house after being contracted out for 14 years.
Fighting Back Against Infection
The site opted for OTEX amid mounting concerns in the NHS about hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), to which the Department of Health estimates around 5,000 deaths each year might be primarily attributable. Facilities management companies serving seven other NHS trusts were already successfully using OTEX in hospitals, but York became the first to introduce the system as part of a cleaning operation staffed by its own personnel.
“There had been a lot of talk within the NHS about microfibre mops and cloths, which basically act like magnets for bacteria,” says Wendy. “JLA produced CAD/CAM designs for the laundry and, based on the numbers of mops and cloths we needed to process, calculated how many machines we would need. But what impressed us most was their OTEX innovation. The system’s ability to thoroughly disinfect and also reduce costs was a major factor when it came to choosing JLA as our supplier.”
Thermal vs Chemical Disinfection
In the NHS, thermal disinfection has traditionally been the preferred method of processing foul or infected laundry. But scientific tests by independent microbiologists Microsearch Laboratories have shown that it is ineffective against C.difficile. One Microsearch test focused on a mop, which had been used in a healthcare environment other than York Hospital. Microsearch thermally disinfected the mop – only to find that it was still teeming with 150,000 C.difficile colonies.
By contrast, further tests proved that the OTEX system, which injects ozone - a powerful natural disinfectant 3,200 times more effective than chlorine - into the wash cycle, is able to destroy C.diff spores along with other micro organisms including MRSA and Norovirus on all wash cycles.
Another major benefit is that OTEX uses mostly cold water and faster wash cycles, dramatically reducing utility and detergent costs, and cutting labour bills by saving time.
“Our laundry is in operation round the clock seven days a week, processing over 4,000 microfibre mops and cloths a day,” continues Wendy, “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.”
“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. Red is poor, amber acceptable and green good or better. 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.”
The demands on the laundry are so great that York Hospital cannot risk machines being out of action for any length of time. This is why the hospital opted for a JLA Total Care package, which guarantees service within 8-working hours seven days a week, including bank holidays.
- Wendy Dale, Domestic Services Manager at York Hospital