TRSA’s 8th Annual Healthcare Conference and Exchange: Insights on Future of Healthcare, Long-Term Care, Labor and More

Posted December 10, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Nearly 200 linen, uniform and facility services executives representing companies responsible for approximately 90 percent of all healthcare textiles processed in North America recently gathered for the TRSA 8th Annual Healthcare Conference and Exchange, Nov. 19-21, in San Diego. The robust agenda for the two-day event provided education, collaboration, networking and a plant tour specifically designed for healthcare operators and associates. It also featured TRSA’s Exchange, which drew strong support from both operator members and associates.

CEO/Executive Roundtable at TRSAs 8th Annual Healthcare Conference Exchange

The two-day program began with TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Advisory Board meeting to discuss potential revisions to the program that has certified nearly 200 facilities processing healthcare textiles worldwide. It was immediately followed by the Hygienically Clean Users Group which received an update on the program. More than 30 participants from plants that are Hygienically Clean certified discussed process improvements, marketing trends and opportunities. “It is critical that representatives from certified facilities have an opportunity to discuss the standard and process improvements,” said TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci.

Nearly 40 CEOs and senior executives participated in TRSA’s annual Healthcare CEO/Executive Roundtable which also drew a dozen next-generation family-owned business leaders. Facilitated by Ricci, the highly interactive discussion on industry-specific concerns such as processing hygienically clean healthcare textiles and infection control; consolidation, and capacity and reliability concerns, as well as broad industry issues including sustainability, automation and labor shortages established a framework for the event. “The No. 1 topic was labor and the best practices of how to attract labor,” said David Stern, CEO, Paris Cos. “I know for my own company it has become a critical issue. It’s harder to get people now to work than it is to get customers.”

On Nov. 20, former healthcare CEO, author and keynote speaker Dr. Josh Luke, addressed a range of issues facing healthcare providers and their impact on suppliers such as healthcare laundries.

Dr. Josh Luke, TRSA Healthcare Conference Keynote

Healthcare is moving to a “value-based” system of cost-control, stated Luke, which means that in most cases, budgets in the follow-up to the Affordable Care Act’s passage in 2010 will mean hospitals and outpatient centers keep tight controls on spending, replacing the old models of “fee-for-service” and “heads in beds” with the move to patients convalescing with home-based care, plus a continuing shift from acute-care to outpatient services (in part to save money).

Linen, scrub, garment and reusable textile companies can benefit from these trends, Dr. Luke said, by providing hospitals with a “go-to expertise” on any issue related to textiles. Flexibility and skill at adapting quickly to change also can benefit laundries, and could particularly benefit small, more nimble companies.

More information on Dr. Luke’s presentation can be found here.

Other general sessions at the conference included:

  • Long-Term Care Market Opportunities Research Project: Presented by Mike Lang of Unitex and Liz Remillong of Crothall. The research was led by the TRSA Healthcare Committee during the past year, and Lang and Remillong discussed their task group’s creation and distribution of marketing materials, including a white paper, that emphasize to nursing home managers the cost benefits of outsourcing textile processing to commercial laundries. The TRSA-funded initiative generated thousands of impressions and nearly 200 leads for members including new contracts for several attendees.
  • Current Healthcare Related Market Research Review: This three-part session kicked off with a live feed from the United Kingdom with Dr. Katie Laird, a biologist and professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, on a new standardized method for determining the antimicrobial efficiency of laundry processes. The live feed provided an opportunity for the TRSA audience in San Diego to query Dr. Laird. Other presentations included a discussion by Dr. David Goldsmith of George Washington University on development and publication of peer-reviewed research validating TRSA’s Hygienically Clean Healthcare certification program and its established measures for hygienically clean healthcare textiles. A third presenter, Steve Tinker of Gurtler Industries Inc., focused on a peer-reviewed article that confirmed the efficacy of peracetic acid for killing C. difficile spores in a tunnel washer.
  • Healthcare Benchmarking: Rick Kislia, retired COO, Crescent Laundry, and Chuck Rossmiller, director – laundry programs, Medline Industries Inc., reviewed findings of a survey of linen, uniform and facility services companies serving the healthcare sector benchmarking various aspects of their operations, trends and market opportunities. The survey showed a significant shift to clinic-based care. For example, the respondents said they serviced 200 clinics in 2009. A decade later, that figure had risen to 3,000 clinics. Another response showed that less than two-thirds of the respondents currently process cubicle curtains for healthcare customers. Details of the TRSA Healthcare Market Survey Report can be found under the “Healthcare Laundry Survey – 2019” link on TRSA’s Past Presentations page.

During the lunch break, attendees welcomed an update on TRSA’s government relations and certification programs by the association’s Vice President of Government Relations and Certifications Kevin Schwalb, who addressed recent actions taken by the M.D. Anderson Healthcare System removing reusable linens from operating rooms and replacing them with disposable linens based on a misguided comment made by a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) surveyor.  TRSA’s Executive Committee has allocated funds to clarify the issue and ensure this action is not carried over to other parts of the health system as well as other health systems nationwide. Schwalb outlined TRSA’s approach to establishing improved working relationships with HICPAC and CDC, that provide guidance to healthcare providers regarding the use of reusable textiles.

The Conference then split up for several breakout sessions, including:

  • Healthcare Certification, Preparation and Audit
  • Innovations in Transportation
  • Recruiting and the Labor Shortage: A Peer-to-Peer Brainstorming Session
  • Navigating the Supply Chain in an Era of Hospital Consolidation – Panel Discussion featuring Mark Pugmire, business operations manager, support services for the University of Utah Health; Kelly Roach, market leader consultant for Impact Solutions Consulting; and moderated by Liz Remillong, vice president, strategic alliance, Crothall Healthcare.

A total of 88 focused meetings were held between operators and 11 supplier companies over two 75-minute sessions held on Nov. 20 and 21 at the conference, with the following associate member companies hosting meetings at the Exchange:

Exchange Meetings: First order of business Nov. 20-21 at TRSA Healthcare Conference

  • ARCO/Murray
  • Automation Dynamics LLC
  • BTG Textiles Inc.
  • Cupron Inc.
  • Diamond Chemical Co. Inc.
  • Ecolab Inc.
  • Encompass Group LLC
  • Kannegiesser ETECH
  • Lavatec Laundry Technology Inc.
  • Six Disciplines Consulting Services

TRSA members who participated in The Exchange found their time well spent. “The Exchange allowed focused time to discuss specific points or issues; we received personalized solutions, suggestions and ideas,” said Christine Tun, Belize Commercial Laundry and Linens. Jason Ellis of Cupron Inc. appreciated the opportunity to interact with TRSA members, “These meetings are very helpful for newer companies.” It’s always good to exchange concerns, ideas and new developments with current and potential vendors/business partners.”

Three busloads of attendees capped their three-day experience with a tour of Emerald Textiles’ 120,000-square-foot healthcare laundry on the southern outskirts of San Diego. Emerald Textiles has earned Hygienically Clean Healthcare and Clean Green certifications from TRSA. Currently serving 90% of the healthcare market in San Diego, this particular location is one of the most automated and technologically advanced commercial healthcare laundry facilities in the U.S.

TRSA 8th Annual Healthcare Conference participants tour the Emerald Textiles laundry in San Diego.

Other topics addressed during the CEO/Executive Roundtable included:

  • Healthcare customer’s hygiene concerns: Several operators said Hygienically Clean certification helps differentiate their companies from competitors and emphasizes their concern for safety.
  • Healthcare Laundry and Provider Consolidation: Concerns about laundry companies lacking the capacity to meet customer needs could spur hospitals to launch co-ops or take other steps as one major provider recently did by partnering with a for-profit group focused on providing “second-chance” opportunities for ex-offenders.
  • Sustainability: This issue weighs heavily in some regions, but not so much in others; i.e., one operator based in the Northwest said her company’s attainment of TRSA’s Clean Green Certification has been attractive to customers.
  • Linen Utilization: A discussion of disposing of ragged out items centered on alternatives when recycling programs no longer accept certain items. Donating goods to homeless shelters, overseas aid groups or animal welfare organizations (the latter groups particularly prize reusable bed pads) offer other outlets for responsibly disposing of these goods.
  • Internal and External Outreach: A group discussion centered on searching other industries for technology innovations in automation, artificial intelligence and materials handling. Establishing working groups of operators and vendor/suppliers to develop standard for textiles, equipment, etc. Access to resources to generate awareness and educate customers, such as TRSA’s Six C’s video and Linen Loss animations, available at

Attendees at the Healthcare CEO/Executive Roundtable included:

  • Greg Anderson, Executive Chairman, Emerald Textiles
  • Lascelle Arnold, Managing Director, Belize Dry Cleaners
  • Bryan Bartsch, President, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service
  • Randy Bartsch, CEO, Ecotex Healthcare Linen Service
  • Jeff Berstein, CEO, ImageFIRST Healthcare Laundry Specialists
  • Richard Bott, CEO, Emerald Textiles
  • Bob Brill, Vice President of Operations, American Textile Maintenance
  • Bruce Feldman, Vice President, Economy Linen & Towel Service Inc.
  • Jason Feldman, Economy Linen & Towel Service Inc.
  • Karl Fillip II, COO, NOVO Health Service, LLC
  • Howard Goldberg, President, Supreme Laundry & Cleaners Inc.
  • Brad Goldstrom, President/COO, Ameritex Services
  • Evan Hall, Vice President of Operations, Northwest Healthcare Linen
  • Jessy Jassny, Director of Sales & Service, MediCleanse Linen Service
  • Aaron Jett, Infection Prevention/Clinical Solutions Manager, Cintas Corp.
  • Rick Kislia, Retired COO, Crescent Laundry
  • Christian Luneburg, President, Florida Linen Services LLC
  • Tim Montague, Owner, Foussard Montague Associates
  • Chad Poeppelmeier, Vice President of Healthcare, Cintas Corp.
  • Bob Raphael, President, MediCleanse Medical Linen Service
  • Liz Remillong, Vice President, Strategic Alliance, Crothall Healthcare
  • Ron Seaman, COO, Florida Linen Service
  • Jamie Shaddix, CEO, Angelica
  • Brad Shames, American Textile Maintenance
  • Greg Shames, Director of Operations, Medico Healthcare Linen Service
  • Matthew Shapiro, Owner, Walker Medical Linen Service
  • David Shapiro, Owner, Walker Towel & Uniform
  • John Shoemaker, Vice President, General Linen & Uniform Service
  • David Stern, President & CEO, Paris Cos.
  • Christine Tun, Assistant Managing Director, Belize Dry Cleaners
  • Kelsey Van Miert, Vice President of Customer Relations, Northwest Health Care Linen

The Roundtable was sponsored by Stephens Inc., an investment bank that is very active in the healthcare linen and laundry space. Simon Bagnall, managing director, Healthcare Services Investment Banking for Stephens Inc., represented the company at the Roundtable.

TRSA thanks these 8th Annual Healthcare Conference and Exchange event partners: Kannegiesser ETECH and Lac-Mac, as well as additional sponsors Ecolab, JENSEN, Lavatec and Standard Textile.

TRSA’s 2020 Healthcare Conference will take place Dec. 1-3 in Memphis. For more information on CEO and Executive Roundtable meetings, contact Joe Ricci at A full calendar of TRSA events through 2022 is available at