TRSA briefs Vice President on importance of establishing a supply chain for re-usable hygienically clean healthcare PPE

20 April 2020

The TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform and facility services industry in North America, last week briefed the office of the vice president of the United States, on the Importance of reusable hygienically clean healthcare contact textiles (HCT) on the supply chain and sustainability-

TRSA vice president of government relations and certification Kevin Schwalb and Joseph Ricci CAE, president & CEO of TRSA, jointly briefed Steve Pinkos, deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor to the vice president, on Friday, 17 April regarding the importance of establishing a balanced supply chain to mitigate shortages of healthcare PPE including use of hygienically clean reusable healthcare contact textiles (HCTs) such as isolation and surgical gowns, scrubs and other PPE.

“The industry will continue providing critical reusable PPE, such as isolation and surgical gowns, scrubs and other healthcare contact textiles to protect frontline medical workers and patients and has the capacity to make up for the shortfall of disposable HCTs,” said Ricci.

After thanking VP Pence for recognising the need for sustainable HCTs during last Thursday’s daily Coronavirus Task Force media briefing, Ricci highlighted the industry’s capacity to deliver HCTs processed by Hygienically Clean Healthcare Certified laundries and its response to the shortage including TRSA supplier members, such as Medline, Standard Textiles, Milliken, Dickies, Aramark, 3M and others efforts to manufacturing and process more reusable PPE.

“TRSA members supply, launder and maintain nearly 90% of the healthcare contact textiles (HCT) such as linens, scrubs, isolation and surgical gowns in North America,” said Ricci, “And are also now serving not only existing healthcare facilities, but the emergency facilities built to handle peak occupancies including convention centres in New York and New Orleans. We have been working to deliver hygienically clean and safe reusable HCTs due to the shortages of disposable alternatives.”

Both sides agree another shortage is likely with the return of elective surgeries, opening of out-patient centres and medical offices across the country as the economy re-opens. When asked how the industry could help overcome these shortages Schwalb stated that “requiring healthcare facilities to use and inventory a more balanced supply chain including at least 50% reusable HCTs” would stimulate manufacturers to begin producing more of the sustainable, reusable PPE.

“We haven’t seen this level of shortages globally,” said Ricci, “As they typically use a better balance of both reusable and disposable products. In the US, the market is dominated by less sustainable disposable products with nearly 90%of HCTs being disposable; globally the balance is closer to 50/50 reusable to disposable.”

“Our industry’s capacity to process hygienically clean, reusable HCTs provides a more sustainable, secure supply chain that could withstand demand fluctuations of the healthcare community while providing the same protection offered by disposable alternatives,” said Ricci.

TRSA asked that VP Pence continue to highlight the safety and sustainability of reusable HCTs and recommended incentivizing healthcare centres to increase usage and inventories of HCTs processed by Hygienically Clean Healthcare certified laundries by asking the CDC and CMS to require for reimbursement the utilization of a minimum use of at least 50% of reusable HCTs to mitigate any future demand of healthcare contact textiles.

Pinkos thanked the industry for the extraordinary work it is doing in keeping the critical infrastructure workforce and the country safe and moving.  TRSA will continue to communicate and work with the Office of the Vice President and the Recovery Task Force to ensure minimise future shortages by establishing a more diverse supply chain including reusable HCT made in the United States.

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