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Hospital Prevents Contamination and Gains Efficiency via RFID

A UHF RFID solution, provided by Telectronica and Zebra Technologies, has enabled Buenos Aires' Sanatorio Finochietto to view the locations and statuses of 80,000 pieces of clothing and linens as they are used, laundered and returned, thereby reducing manual labor and ensuring nothing leaves or re-enters the facility without proper laundering.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 13, 2020

Argentine hospital Sanatorio Finochietto is using an RFID-based solution to bring visibility to all of its uniforms and linens, thereby ensuring that each item can be accounted for and that its washing process is conducted properly, while also preventing items from leaving the hospital without authorization. Its laundry services company, Lavadero Berazategui also employs the technology to track items at its own site.

Since the system was taken live approximately two years ago, the hospital says it has been able to reduce the cost of purchasing redundant inventory, as well as cutting labor time that employees previously spent counting garments and linens. It is now attaching RFID tags to other assets, in order to manage their usage and location; this will continue during the first quarter of this year. The solution is provided by Telectronica, using the company's cloud-based software and leveraging Zebra Technologies fixed RFID readers and antennas, in addition to handheld readers and Datamars RFID tags. The hospital is now tracking about 80,000 garments and linen items with the RFID system.

Sanatorio Finochietto, built in 2011, is among the largest private hospitals in Argentina, and is located in Buenos Aires. The company has been challenged with managing the uniforms worn by physicians and other health-care providers, as well as the linens and towels used for patient care. The lack of visibility into these items led the hospital to acquire excess inventory, while staff members spent a great deal of time counting the items as they left for and returned from the laundry service provider. In some cases, the lack of visibility into inventory caused delays as patient rooms were being prepared with fresh linens.

Additionally, garments sometimes went home with staff members, often inadvertently, and they could then be simply lost, or they could be laundered at a worker's home and be re-used—a practice that is not authorized. All garments must undergo an industrial washing process under strict quality management to prevent any disease or infection from being re-introduced to the hospital.

The hospital contacted Telectronica for a solution, according to Alan Gidekel, the firm's CEO. Since the hospital contracts its washing services to Lavadero Berazategui , the system was deployed to track items both in the hospital and at the laundry facility, using a combination of fixed and handheld readers and cloud-based software that could be accessed by both hospital and laundry management.

To deploy the system, Lavadero Berazategui first sewed Datamars RFID tags into each garment or linen item. Telectronica installed fixed readers at the hospital's entrances and exits, and it installed smart cabinets to identify when goods are shipped to and returned from the laundry. It also acquired handheld readers for inventory-management purposes. For dirty laundry leaving the hospital, a Zebra FX9000 cabinet reader can read 1,000 items simultaneously, according to Rosana Roman, Zebra's territory channel account manager. A smaller cabinet, utilized for returned clothes and linens, comes with a built-in Zebra FX7500 reader to capture data regarding which items come back to the hospital clean.

The process begins when a staff member picks up his or her garment or linens. That worker then uses a fingerprint scanner, provided by Telectronica, to identify himself or herself at the linens station. The scanner sends the fingerprint information to Telectronica's software, which matches the fingerprint to the specific employee and displays information about what items she or he uses (such as medium-sized scrubs). The worker retrieves the required items and uses a Zebra countertop reader to capture what is being provided, after which the software links those items with that employee.

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