Hospital tells patients to do own laundry

John McMeans said he is upset the contuing care facility where he stays is cancelling its laundry service.

Cost-cutting measures at Saint-Vincent Hospital's complex continuing care unit mean patients could soon be responsible for doing their own laundry.

Officials at St. Vincent Hospital, which is part of Bruyère Continuing Care, said instead of using a cleaning service the continuing care unit would be installing coin-operated washers and dryers for patients and their families to use.

The organization said it is $2 million in debt and needs to find savings. They are hoping family members can help the patients do their laundry after a new policy is in place starting in June.

"It's not a perfect world by any means but we feel by trying to save some money in that avenue, it's absolutely not touching them at the front end for their care," said director of complex continuing care Liliane Locke.

But the decision does not sit well with many patients, including John McMeans, a patient at the downtown Ottawa facility who is missing both legs at the knee and also has heart trouble and arthritis.

"There's patients here that got nobody, like me I got nobody," said McMeans.

The average stay at the facility used to be several years, and while it is less now, patients often live there four to five months, making clean laundry a necessity.

Many patients have serious physical limitations like McMeans and some require the use of a wheelchair to move around.

McMeans said he would not be able to do it himself and he knows what would happen.

"People just have to wear dirty clothes, that's all. That's not healthy you know," he said.

Locke said she has discussed the changes with the hospital's infection control office. She also said for patients who are unable to do their own laundry and who do not have family members to help out, the hospital would try to work out another solution.