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Virginia Hospital Laundry Serving Healthcare Industry Needs 

Virginia Hospital LaundryIf you’ve ever been a patient in a hospital or outpatient facility, chances are pretty good that you never gave a thought to the sheet that was on your bed, the pillowcase under your head or the lab coat your nurse or doctor wore.

“That’s the way we like it,” says Meredith Bowery, executive vice president of Virginia Hospital Laundry, a Richmond-based company that launders linen for VCU Health Systems, Centra Health, and other healthcare facilities in Central Virginia.

“Our measure of success is that you have no idea who we are. If you never notice us, we’re doing it right.”

Virginia Hospital Laundry’s 100 employees handle 11 to 12 million pounds of laundry a year from a 35,000 square foot facility on Oliver Hill Way between Richmond’s East End and Shockoe Bottom.

Virginia Hospital Laundry (VHL) is a business services client of Virginia Credit Union. Like the credit union, VHL is a co-op, owned by the hospitals and healthcare facilities that depend on it to provide impeccably clean sheets, towels, linens and scrubs day after day.

In business for more than 40 years, VHL began shifting some of its business accounts to Virginia Credit Union two years ago. VACU helped the company finance the purchase of new, more efficient washers and dryers for their Richmond operations.

The new equipment includes a robot-like laundry mover called a shuttle, a new press, and four new dryers. The more efficient equipment has helped to cut the amount of time needed for drying from 15 hours down to 7.5 hours each day.

Two new washers will be installed next month. In some ways, the giant machines are similar to the washer you have at home, except that these machines operate hour after hour every day and handle loads weighing 170 pounds at a time.

Exacting standards

Medical laundry must be washed at very high temperatures. VHL must comply with regulations from a diverse alphabet soup of agencies including OSHA, the CDC, and even the Department of Transportation. Meeting these standards and achieving independent accreditation is key to serving existing clients and attracting new business. VHL is preparing for an independent accreditation visit in the near future.

Bowery’s own story is an example of hard work, commitment and steady advancement. When she came to work at VHL 16 years ago, it was as the company’s receptionist. She had learned about the company while taking a course at Reynolds Community College alongside another VHL employee. She later completed her bachelor’s degree at VCU. 

After working at the front desk, she moved to human resources and then into operations. For the past two years, she has been the executive vice president with primary responsibility for preparing the company’s annual budget, capital planning, and the day to day function of the plant.

Versatile staff

“There are so few of us that, by necessity, we all learn to do other things,” she says. “My predecessor was very open-minded about teaching you anything you had the drive to learn. He gave me the big picture of what it takes to make this place run.”

The versatility of the VHL team has proven its value on more than one occasion.

“Hospitals never close, so we can’t close either. When it snows, like last year, when some of our staff couldn’t get to work, those of us who were here pitched in and ran the plant.”

No stranger to VACU

While the business services relationship with VHL is new, Virginia Credit Union was no stranger to Bowery.

“I’ve been a member of the credit union since I was a teenager, but I never knew that business services were available.”

Jenny Boniface, now a senior business relationship manager with VACU, called Bowery when she moved to VACU from another financial institution. Bowery says she appreciates the personal attention and greater flexibility of dealing with VACU.

“I think credit unions in general are easier to deal with. With a large bank, the individual staff may understand your needs, but they are much more rigid in their structure and what their rules will permit.”

As a co-op, we’re in business to provide a service,” Bowery explains, “so our financial structure looks different. The credit union is structured differently too. I think they’re able to understand us better.”

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