Canadian firms frequently are in the forefront when it comes to championing new health care-related technologies, and Coinamatic Canada Inc. is no exception. Several years ago, the nation’s foremost distributor of laundry equipment approached Shepherd Village in Toronto, a residential community complex for senior citizens, about conducting a cold water laundering pilot program using ozone (03) diffusion systems developed by ClearWater Tech LLC.
“We have a central laundry that serves all of Shepherd Village,” says Mario Gugliotta, Facility Manager. “Most of our operation is geared toward long-term care residents in Shepherd Lodge and the retirement-assisted living building next to it. We service nearly 1.2 million pounds of total laundry over the course of a year, about 9 pounds per resident per day.”
Founded in 1958, the original Shepherd Lodge opened in 1961 along with adoption of the Shepherd Village Inc. name. Located on Sheppard Avenue just north of Highway 401 and across the street from the Tam O’Shanter Golf Course, today the 8-acre Village site includes four buildings housing nearly 900 seniors.
Shepherd Manor, built in 1976, has 263 apartments for independent, active adults. Shepherd Gardens, a life lease residence with 115 units, opened in 1999. Shepherd Terrace, built in 1991, provides 112 retirement and 32 assisted living suites.
EcoTex™ O3 ozone combats superbugs, cuts costs and more
Although the ClearWater Tech-manufactured EcoTex O3 ozone systems provided by Coinamatic have significantly reduced utility costs and other expenses, Gugliotta jumped at the pilot program opportunity primarily for health-related reasons.
“The biggest selling point for us is that ozone combats the superbugs everyone is dealing with in Canada and elsewhere, including MRSA(1), C. difficile(2) and VRE(3),” he reveals. Frequently referred to as “HAis” (Hospital-Acquired Infections), ill or injured patients are most susceptible to infection by these invisible, drug-resistant bacteria. Superbugs can survive on surfaces up to three days and be passed along via garments and bed linens.
“There’s no better way to get rid of superbugs and other potentially dangerous infections that can quickly spread in facilities such as ours, than laundering with EcoTex O3 oxone,” Gugliotta contends. “When we send residents out to hospitals we’re not dealing with these bugs. We ‘swab’ patients coming in from a hospital and if infection is noted, we treat them in isolation. Whether laundering linens separately or with the rest, now our use of ozone further prevents infection transfer.”
“You don’t see direct money savings like you do with utilities and such. But when Coinamatic asked us to be the Canadian pilot for this program, I thought ‘if we can reduce infection and prevent outbreak, that’s going to have an impact.'”
Two of Shepherd Village’s four 60-lb. washing machines were converted for Eco Tex O3 ozone cold water laundering. Comparisons with traditional hot water methods using the other two machines were conducted for a year.
Pilot program delivers eye-opening results
“Results were very eye-opening,” reports Gugliotta, including an immediate, unexpected plus. “The first thing we noticed was the smell. Ozone made the laundry room smell so much fresher, almost instantly, on the very first day.”
Laundry rooms tend to have a heavy soiled, unattractive odor, he points out. “Just the smell of the ozone provided a brighter, more cheerful and better working environment. Staff members were more alert. Morale improved drastically because of the ozone.”
He notes that, when setting up the pilot program, “the only thing Coinamatic wanted from us was to be able to bring in other potential ozone system users now and then, to see how it works. We definitely don’t mind bringing people into our laundry room anymore, because it’s a very pleasant environment.”
Gugliotta recalls a few minor growing pains with the machines, since the older units weren’t designed for injections. Coinamatic quickly smoothed out the bumps, and “newer machines now have a port type for this system.”
As for the laundry itself, “ozone opens the pores in the material so that you get a better clean, a better wash. The whites are a lot whiter, and the clothes and linens smell fresher with less chemicals.”
Multiple savings paint a healthier budget picture
Although EcoTex O3 systems in various organizations show average savings up to 85 percent for gas used to heat water, 30 percent for electrical energy and 35 percent less in water usage, Gugliotta focuses on overall composite laundry operating costs. While Shepherd Village is a not-for-profit corporation, he said that budget savings can be put toward facility improvements and upgrades, new projects, extra staff on-site for special events and more. Reducing expenses certainly is a priority.
“We show savings of 28 percent in the total cost of our laundry operation. Our laundry runs seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight, and it’s a very busy place throughout the day.”
With or without specific percentage breakouts, Gugliotta says savings stem from:
Supplier involvement and staff feedback key factors
Gugliotta is quick to credit all parties contributing to the successful pilot program as well as progress since shifting all four washing machines to EcoTex O3 ozone treatment.
Coinamatic handled washer conversion and setup of the ClearWater Tech-made ozone systems, which also are third party tested and certified (UL, cUL, CE; RoHS-compliant, EPA registered)4. Especially during the first couple of months, as they have for 20-some years while servicing shepherd Village, Coinamatic had “the right people doing the right things,” by monitoring system performance and making any adjustments needed.
“Our chemical supplier also is an important cog in this wheel,” Gugliotta points out. “They were involved with the problem right away. They adjusted calculations to reduce alkalinity and worked closely with us to ‘tweak’ formulas for best results. Even now, we’re continually testing and improving, tweaking 8-10 washing programs and looking to settle on three or four. They are a valued partner and it’s a plus for them to be a part of our program. All of us realize the importance of preventing the spread of infection in any facility. Everyone wins.”
Shepherd Village laundry staff played a key role, providing firsthand feedback, insights and suggestions to get the pilot program up-to-speed and on track.
“Hands-on experience counts,” Gugliotta asserts. “Our people could tell what worked, what wasn’t working, and things that we could do better. They could see if the clothes weren’t clean enough, if more chemical ozone was needed. Continuous improvement is part of our operation and their ongoing, active participation is a major asset.”
A happier staff and healthier Village
“We had a good team before the ozone,” Gugliotta says. “But since then, I can’t talk enough about how staff morale has picked up. The camaraderie jumped and you see more people helping each other. Ozone not only freshened the environment, it seemed to unite them and they work better now as a team. You can’t put a dollar value on that.”
“It goes beyond the laundry room. This has become a central meeting place for all of my staff. People in other departments come in here before starting their shifts, often folding clothes or helping with other tasks while visiting.”
Staff members are well aware of the benefits of EcoTex O3 ozone in combating superbugs or other infections that can invade communities such as Shepherd Village. “They’re proud to not simply be doing laundry day in and day out, but to be part of an operation that helps protect Village residents and effectively prevents the spread of infections.”
Prior to Eco Tex O3 ozone, Gugliotta recalls, “we would have two or three outbreaks of some sort every year,” usually during a six-month period from late Fall to early Spring. “We have now reduced that number. Our laundry is like a block-wall to infections.”
(1) MRSA (“Mer-suh”): methicillin-resistant. Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as a staph infection. Once effectively treated with methicillin, so many staph and other germs have become resistant that the antibiotic is no longer manufactured.
(2) C. difficile, abbreviated name for Clostridium difficile (“klaw-STRID-ee-im-dif-i-SEEL”): an infection that appears in patients taking antibiotics. C. Diff spores live on surfaces for long periods of time and are easily spread via, among other things, patient garments and bed linens.
(3) VRE: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (plural for enteroccocus), can dangerously infect the urinary tract, bloodstream, a wound or catheter insertion site. In recent years, some bacteria that had been successfully treated with vancomycin – including a form of enterococci now called VRE – grew to tolerate this antibiotic.
(4) EcoTexTM O3 Ozone System certifications include both UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and cUL/Canadian Standards, as well as CE/Conformite Europeenne – European Market; systems also are ROHS-compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive/European Union) and U.S. EPA registered.
One of Canada’s first senior care facilities, Shepherd Village’s Shepherd Lodge opened in 1961 and continues to provide long-term care to residents as part of the four-building community for seniors. More recently, advanced-technology cold-water EcoTex O3 ozone laundering systems began providing superior infection-prevention for residents.
Facility manager Mario Gugliotta (left) leads the team at Toronto’s Shepherd Village, a four-building community complex for seniors that includes long-term care residents. Using EcoTex O3, an ozone cold-water treatment system manufactured by ClearWater Tech LLC, San Luis Obispo, CA and distributed by Coinamatic Canada Inc. Shepherd Village has reduced overall laundry operation costs by 28 percent.
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