Healthcare Conference: Trends, Opportunities and Challenges

Posted November 18, 2022 at 3:22 pm




More than 150 operator and supplier partner executives serving the healthcare market sector attended TRSA’s 11th Annual Healthcare Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. The two-day conference featured a full day of industry-specific education followed by a tour of Emerald Textiles’ 65,000-square-foot plant in nearby Phoenix.

“This was a great conference,” said TRSA Vice Chair Randy Bartsch, CEO, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service. “It was good to see such a good turnout, representing so many people both on the processing side as well as our vendors. This is a great event every year to get together with the people that we work with in the industry. You don’t want to miss it!”

The opening day of the conference kicked off on Nov. 16 with a morning keynote delivered by Ryan Donohue, strategic advisor, NRC Health and The Governance Institute. Titled “Patient No Longer: The Brave New World of Post-COVID Consumerism,” Donohue’s address detailed patients growing expectations and needs, with a focus on how healthcare providers and companies serving the healthcare sector can strategically meet these ever-changing expectations. He also examined the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare sector and how it led to innovations such as greater use of virtual doctor’s visits.

Donohue is an expert on this topic through his work with many top health systems and hospitals to understand the changes resulting from a more consumer-centric healthcare environment. His clients include the Mayo Clinic, Trinity Health, Baylor Scott & White Health, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, Providence and Partners HealthCare. Donohue continues to research how consumers make decisions and how providers can move to the leading edge in consumer and patient engagement and retention.

After Donohue spoke, attendees heard the tale of how Inova Health System in Northern Virginia designed and produced a custom, reusable isolation gown to counter the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The custom gowns ensured adequate supply of the healthcare system’s second-most-used type of PPE, while also eliminating 213 tons of waste per year due to the system’s former use of disposable gowns. The new gowns are currently in use at two of Inova’s five hospitals. Lucy He, director of infection prevention and control, and Mandy Campanaro, senior service line partner, at Inova Health System, joined Carlos Iniguez, quality assurance and compliance officer, HandCraft Services Inc., Richmond, VA, to discuss the details of this reusable PPE. HandCraft provides laundry services for Inova Health System.

The morning ended with a pair of data-driven sessions recapping the results of TRSA’s recent healthcare survey and long-term care initiative. Kevin Schwalb, TRSA’s vice president of government relations, then provided attendees with a lunchtime update on the latest regulatory and legislative initiatives that TRSA is working on in Washington, DC, and at the state level on behalf of its members and the industry.

The afternoon concluded with several panel sessions on topics such as the value of reusable healthcare textiles and garments, and the use of marketing and sales to convince long-term care facilities to outsource their laundry. Bartsch moderated the final panel. The session featured five senior executives, including:

  • Jason Berstein, president, Nixon Medical Inc.
  • Jim Cashman, CEO, ImageFIRST
  • Karl Fillip II, CEO, NOVO Health Services LLC
  • Andrew Kratky, CEO, Emerald Textiles
  • Joe LaPorta, president & CEO, Healthcare Linen Services Group

The panel discussion featured several interactive polls that gave attendees the opportunity to share their thoughts to help steer the dialogue. The wide-ranging panel discussion touched on topics such as the prospect of a recession and its likely impact on the healthcare market, investing in automation, challenges serving the healthcare sector, and instilling culture and values throughout an organization.

“I really enjoyed it,” Kratky said. “This is actually my first TRSA conference that I’ve been to, and I thought it was great. I thought the interaction with the people that were here was really good, the panels were really good and it was great to hear what was going on in different parts of the industry and different regions outside of where we call home in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. So it was well-rounded. I really appreciated the opportunity to be here.”

The Healthcare Conference concluded the following day with a tour of Emerald Textiles’ Hygienically Clean certified facility in Phoenix. The 65,000-square-foot plant opened in October 2003. It is equipped with three Pellerin Milnor tunnels, each of which has 10, 150 lb. modules. The facility’s 240 employees process 80,000 lbs. of laundry per day. Emerald Textiles is in the process of expanding the plant to prepare for additional capacity and efficiency. The Phoenix plant is in the process of installing a new Milnor tunnel washer with 10, 150 lb. modules, a 40 BAR single-stage press, along with a rail system for sling bag loaders, a conveyor and a two-cake elevating shuttle. Six Milnor dryers also are being installed to complement the system, each with up to 325 lbs. drying with a two-cake load.

“It’s amazing to see all the new technology, how it comes together, and learn some best practices and new systems,” said Jeff Peterson, sales manager, Spin Linen Management, Omaha, NE. “The plant tour gives us the opportunity to see what innovations are out there that we hadn’t thought about yet. Thanks to TRSA and Emerald Textiles for setting up the tour. It’s been a great experience.”

Several meetings took place the day before the Healthcare Conference’s formal kickoff, including the Hygienically Clean Healthcare Advisory Board and Users’ Group meetings. The Hygienically Clean meetings were followed by a CEO/Executive Roundtable. TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci moderated this discussion, which drew more than 40 senior-level executives.

TRSA’s Healthcare Conference was sponsored by five-star partner Kannegiesser ETECH, four-star partners G.A. Braun and JENSEN, premium sponsors Brim, Lavatec, Pellerin Milnor and Unitex International, and supporting sponsors APPI Energy, G.A. Braun, Lac Mac and Pellerin Milnor.

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