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St. Luke's Health System Opens New Central Laundry and Reference Laboratory

Ann Sargent, director of St. Luke's Laboratory Service, and Randy Rhodes, manager of St. Luke's Central Laundry, cut the ribbon officially opening the new laundry and lab on Feb. 22.
By Ken Dey, News and Community
February 25, 2011

BOISE, Idaho – A major expansion project that will greatly improve the laboratory offerings, and increase the capacity for laundry services, was unveiled at an official opening Feb. 22.

The $17.8 million expansion project created a new reference laboratory and central laundry from St. Luke’s Health System. The new facilities are located in adjacent buildings just off Federal Way in Boise.

The former Micron Technology production facilities have been transformed into one of the region’s premier laboratories and Idaho’s largest and most environmentally-friendly laundry facility.

“The new laboratory is the largest and most advanced in the region, with the latest cutting-edge technology that will allow us to efficiently reduce the turn-around time for tests.  It will enable us to perform work that has historically been sent out of state and prepares us for future advances in the field of molecular testing,” said Chris Roth, chief operating officer for St. Luke’s Treasure Valley operations. “St. Luke’s enjoys strong partnerships with all regional medical technology programs and we expect that the laboratory will also be a key training lab for students pursuing education in the field of Laboratory Medicine.“

The reference laboratory features the latest automated testing equipment and advanced instrumentation to assure consistent and high quality testing.

The laboratory will primarily serve outpatient and physician office testing needs across St. Luke’s Health System. Currently, many of those tests are provided by outside vendors. The existing laboratory at the Boise hospital will continue to provide testing for hospital patients.

The new lab will allow St. Luke’s to reduce duplication of tests across the system and expand the menu of tests performed locally. Having additional lab capacity will also allow for faster turnaround times for test results.

“We anticipate that concentrating our services within the health system will reduce our overall expenses by more than $15 million over the next several years,” Roth said.

The new laundry replaces an outdated facility on the Boise campus that was built in the 1940s. The new location allows for a much better working environment for St. Luke’s employees while providing much needed additional capacity.

This laundry is equipped with the latest in advanced automation technology and has redundant systems that will provide laundry services to all major healthcare providers in the region including St. Alphonsus Health System, and all St. Luke’s Health System facilities.

Savings are also expected at the new central laundry. The laundry features the latest in high-tech laundry equipment, which will allow for the process to be almost fully automated. Employees will sort the laundry, but it will move automatically through the washing and drying process.

The laundry will more than double the current capacity of the existing laundry, and because of its advanced design will offer significant savings on utility and water costs.

As an example, the existing laundry processes approximately 7.3 million pounds of laundry a year. For each pound of laundry it currently takes 2.5 gallons of water, but in the new laundry a pound of laundry will only require .35 gallons of water – a nearly 90 percent reduction in water usage. Those savings, coupled with high-efficiency equipment, are expected to save the laundry $326,000 a year in utility costs.

The lab and laundry are the first of many expected expansions for St. Luke’s Health System. The new $250 million St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center is set to open in May, and over the next decade St. Luke’s expects to invest $1.27 billion across the system in new facilities and services.  To see photos of the two facilities click here.

About St. Luke’s Health System

St. Luke’s Health System is Idaho’s largest and only locally controlled health care system, employing more than 9,000 people. With hospitals in Boise, Meridian, Twin Falls, Ketchum and McCall, St. Luke’s provides patients with unmatched care in specialized medical fields including cancer, heart and vascular, obstetrics, women’s services and children’s health care. To find out more, visit www.stlukesonline.org.

About The Author

Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.