Odour from 'clean' laundry shut down operating room at Kamloops hospital - InfoNews

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Odour from 'clean' laundry shut down operating room at Kamloops hospital

January 12, 2018 - 3:56 PM

KAMLOOPS – Interior Health says an odour coming from a batch of cleaned laundry was bad enough to shut down one of Royal Inland Hospital’s operating rooms for half a day last October.

Interior Health Authority corporate director Andrew Pattison made the admission after members of the public contacted iNFOnews.ca complaining about the laundry supply since privatization in June 2017.

Just one day after Pattison said the small number of times “an item” was included with clean linens and shipped to Interior Health Authority sites it was not "a concern with regards to cleanliness or sterility of the linens," he now says an odour from a batch of clean linens was reported in October 2017.

It was so bad some staff became ill.

“We did have some staff report symptoms due to this odour,” Pattison says. “These including headache, throat irritation and nausea. I’m not aware, however, of any long-lasting impact.”

He says the room was shut down “in the interest of staff, physician and patient safety.”

“At that time, we had one OR remain available to us, for emergency surgeries, as it is on a separate ventilation system,” he says.

This admission also comes a day after a spokesperson for the Hospital Employee Union said staff at hospitals across the Thompson-Okanagan have been returning one-third of their clean laundry since Interior Health started contracting out the service.

“Sometimes there could be a laundry bag where there’s 10 to 20 pieces that are stained. Sheets, top sheets, face cloths, towels and gowns,” local union executive member Heather Tomlin said.

Interior Health denied receiving any complaints from staff or union representatives and said recent laundry shortages were due to a particularly nasty flu season.

Pattison says since the operating room shut down in Kamloops, steps have been taken to ensure it won’t happen again.

Those steps include a review and adjustment of “laundering protocols for this product” made at the laundry plant.

“Lab gowns are also now delivered in cloth bags,” he says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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