At this Idaho ER, you leave with clean clothes

McCall has the only St. Luke’s hospital that does laundry on site.

THE STAR-NEWS (MCCALL)February 19, 2014 

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Gena Mencer, left, and Angie Moore fold a freshly laundered blanket to be returned to a patient at St. Luke's McCall.

TOM GROTE — Star-News

When accident victims are treated in the emergency room at St. Luke’s McCall, they get their wounds closed and their broken bones set, but they also get their clothes back clean.

St. Luke’s processes tons of sheets, gowns, towels and other items, but it is a few pounds of laundry that gets special attention. The clothes of patients who have been treated for an emergency illness or injury can be laundered and returned by the time they are ready to go home.

“When someone comes in off the ski hill and their coat and suits are wet, we can throw them in the dryer and they will be done when they need them,” says Gina Mencer, the hospital’s manager of environmental and linen services.

Soiled or bloody clothes can be quickly retrieved from the emergency room, carried to the hospital’s laundry just down the street, washed and returned to the patient. Clothes that are cut away by emergency room attendants cannot be repaired, but Mencer keeps a supply of sweat pants and other clothes for men, women and children that she has gathered from the hospital auxiliary’s thrift shop.

“They won’t be pretty, but at least they will have clothes,” she says.

Many patients have a special attachment to a shirt or other piece of clothing, and they appreciate getting them returned, says Angie Moore, who helps Mencer with the laundry.

Special care is also taken with clothing of patients who have died at the hospital. Those items are laundered and returned to family members.

The McCall hospital is the only one in the St. Luke’s Health System that does its laundry on site, says Lyle Nelson, public relations director. Other locations send their laundry to a central plant in Boise, and McCall hospital administrators have thought about doing the same, he says.

Moore and Mencer hope that never happens.

“Other places don’t want to be bothered with it, but to me it is what we can do as part of patient care,” Mencer says.

Says Moore: “We don’t think we’re going out of our way. It is just who we are and what we do.”

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