The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) is making available an alternative to its traditional inspection delivery process for healthcare laundries seeking to maintain their HLAC-accreditation status or to become an HLAC-accredited laundry during the pandemic.

"Our HLAC Inspection Delivery Option (IDO) is a response to the various challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis that have affected our traditional inspection process," said Regina A Baras, HLAC executive director. "Where, typically, inspections involved both an on-site administrative audit and a physical inspection of a laundry requiring a day or two of time and travel for our inspectors, IDO shifts the administrative audit to a virtual meeting between the laundry operators and the HLAC inspector. After this virtual conference, the inspector will submit a report to the HLAC Accreditation sub-committee, which will then either recommend approval or request remedial steps necessary for accreditation.”

Cost is the same for either the traditional or the alternative inspection delivery process.

"There will still be a need for an on-site physical inspection as part of the process," Baras said. "But we are deferring this inspection for up to one year. Then, depending on the outcome of the on-site inspection, the laundry will either maintain its accreditation, initiate remediation to keep its accreditation, or have its accreditation rescinded for not meeting and/or maintaining HLAC standards."

HLAC is a nonprofit organisation formed for the purpose of inspecting and accrediting laundries processing healthcare textiles for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

Baras said with IDO, HLAC is attempting to address all aspects of its inspection process, the needs of the parties involved and the challenging realities of the current environment.

"Here's what we know: The demand for HLAC accreditation has accelerated for three reasons: First, more than ever, HLAC-accredited laundries want to maintain their status. Second, more unaccredited laundries are looking to upgrade the quality of their processes with standards like ours. Third, the popularity of reusable healthcare textiles (HCTs) is on the rise, as is the search for a means to maintain the integrity of HCTs through the application of standards like ours."

Baras continued: "So, within this scenario – and even though the country is beginning to open up again – there still exists the challenge of meeting these demands amidst a crisis that has hampered travel with any number of uncertainties, including different state and local stay-in-place restrictions, travel and lodging availability, laundry site visiting rules and requirements, etc. Our inspectors usually need to travel to do their job. What we've done with IDO is provide the option of deferring that travel for the time being but still enable laundries to receive their HLAC accreditation."

Baras said HLAC has successfully piloted IDO to the satisfaction of its inspectors and laundry operators. "HLAC's IDO is a response to the challenges presented by the pandemic. Keep in mind that this, currently, is not our preferred process for inspection delivery. And yet it enables us to continue to provide the industry with an accrediting program that acknowledges that a laundry meets the highest standards for processing HCTs – for the benefit of its employees, its healthcare customers, and patients alike. Today, having HLAC accreditation is more important than ever."    

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