New $14 Million Duke Laundry Unveiled
DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke University Health System is
preparing to unveil a new $14 million, 60,000-square-foot
laundry facility with the capacity to clean more than 30 tons
of laundry each day.
The new Duke Laundry, located in an industrial park at 4
Anson St., is designed to increase efficiency, keep costs down
and improve working conditions for employees, thanks in part to
state-of-the-art computerized technologies. The facility
officially begins operating on July 16, bringing all laundry
generated by the health system's three hospitals - Duke
Hospital, Durham Regional Hospital and Raleigh Community
Hospital under one roof.
The facility will replace separate laundry facilities
operated by Duke Medical Center on the Gattis Street extension
and at the Durham Regional Hospital campus. Raleigh Community
Hospital currently contracts
with an outside firm for laundry services. Health system
officials have not yet decided what will be done with the older
facilities, which will remain vacant for the time being.
Newer pieces of equipment currently in use at the existing
Duke and Durham facilities will be transported to the new
facility on Anson Street, while the older equipment will be
sold to a broker that specializes in selling used industrial
The new facility is expected to save $400,000 a year in
expenses, said Shane W. Woodson, the health system's director
of hospital linen services who was brought in two years ago to
oversee the design and construction of the new building.
Kerry Watson, senior associate chief operating officer for
Duke Hospital, said the health system wanted to accomplish
several important objectives with the new laundry facility.
"We wanted to build a state-of-the-art facility; provide a
comfortable work environment that maximizes staff productivity
and promote a sense of organizational pride; as well as
reinforce the organization's commitment to team and individual
growth and development; and provide an environmentally friendly
facility that helps protect the health and welfare of the
at-large community," he said. "I think we have accomplished all
of these objectives in this new laundry facility."
To keep up with increasing demands, the Duke University
Health System laundry needed to process 30 percent more linen
per day than the existing facility was able to clean.
Meanwhile, Durham Regional also was facing the possibility of
spending thousands of dollars on badly needed new equipment.
The new laundry will initially operate at 40 percent capacity,
allowing for substantial future growth, Woodson said.
Duke Laundry will have the capacity to process 61,000 pounds
of linen per day, which compares to 19,000 pounds at the old
Duke laundry and approximately 10,000 pounds at Durham Regional
Hospital's laundry. Raleigh Community has outsourced
approximately 3,000 pounds per day.
The automation and computerized features allow the operation
to accomplish more with fewer workers, Woodson said. Of the 64
employees currently employed at the Duke and Durham Regional
laundry facilities, 52 will work for Duke Laundry and the
others will be reassigned to other positions within the Duke
University Health System.
The new facility also will improve the working conditions
for its employees, Woodson said. Working in a laundry can be
strenuous. Missed days of work and worker compensation claims,
most of which are related to on-the-job back injuries,
currently total approximately $50,000 annually at the Duke
Now the need to lift laundry bags has practically been
eliminated from jobs at the new laundry, where automated
machines will do most of the heavy lifting. To help reduce
strain and fatigue, the designers have
arranged each workstation to meet or exceed ergonomic
standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health
Other worker safety and convenience features include:
Air conditioning at individual workstations to maintain
comfortable room temperatures.
Sensors to detect radioactive medical materials that may
have mistakenly fallen in a laundry cart.
Mechanically operated truck bays.
An air-conditioned lunchroom, complete with vending
machines, outdoor eating areas and a personal computer for
Shower for employees.
The new facility is equipped with two 2,500-gallon and three
1,500-gallon chemical storage tanks as opposed to the current
method of storing chemicals in 55-gallon tanks. It's also an
environmentally friendly design, complete with two 48-foot long
tunnel washers that can process 3,900 pounds of linen per
"The tunnels reuse the rinse water, making them the most
energy-efficient systems available at 1.2 gallons of water per
pound of linen processed -- compared to conventional washing at
three gallons per pound for most and up to four gallons for
home style washing machines," Woodson said.