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$48M laundry center in Detroit to keep 3 health systems clean during pandemic

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Henry Ford Health System, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine on Wednesday announced the opening of a $48 million shared laundry facility in Detroit.

Mayor Mike Duggan joined leaders of the three health systems to celebrate the opening of the facility on a previously vacant 10-acre industrial property at 1150 Elijah McCoy Drive.

The shared laundry will serve Henry Ford Health System, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine.

A six-year project undertaken by Metropolitan Detroit Area Hospital Services, a Michigan nonprofit corporation formed by local hospitals in the 1970s, the facility opened in June but its announcement was delayed due to the pandemic. 

The facility employs 150 people, and furthers ongoing revitalization in that part of the city, the mayor said. 

"The New Center and North End area have been taking off," Duggan said. "We’re at a location that anybody can get to in the city. We are one after another occupying the vacant industrial buildings in the city." 

The facility is the latest health care development in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood north of Interstate 94 and west of the Lodge Freeway, officials said. In 2015, Cardinal Health opened a distribution plan on Rose Parks Boulevard that services local health care systems. The Henry Ford Cancer Institute will soon open its new cancer facility nearby.

The new laundry operation has the capacity to to clean up to 78 million pounds of health care linens — scrubs, bed sheets, pillowcases, blankets, towels and scrubs for inpatient and outpatient use — every year for the health systems combined.

For four decades, the five-hospital Henry Ford Health System based in Detroit, and the St. Joseph Mercy system with hospitals in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia and Pontiac, operated a shared laundry facility on Oakman Boulevard on Detroit’s west side. Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan's health system, joined the laundry operation in 2019. 

St. Joseph Mercy also owns hospitals in Grand Rapid, Muskegon and Shelby, and is part of the Livonia-based Trinity Health Michigan hospital chain.

Planning for a new facility began six years ago when it became apparent that aging equipment and infrastructure, as well as limited capacity, were no longer meeting the health systems' needs,  officials said. 

"The timing on this is interesting, because the pandemic has shown all of us, particularly the health systems, the value of working together," Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Trinity Health Michigan, said Wednesday. 

"We are much stronger together, and this laundry is a typical example."  

Henry Ford Health System, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Michigan Medicine on Wednesday announced the opening of a $48 million shared laundry facility in Detroit.

The facility's expanded capacity has created 80 new positions. Starting Nov. 1, minimum pay for an entry-level job there will be $15.04 per hour, with health and retirement benefits. Many of the jobs pay more than that, officials said. 

Bob Riney, Henry Ford’s president of health care operations and chief operating officer, said the additional jobs will boost health in the city, where economic and health disparities go hand in hand. 

"All of our health systems believe in population health," Riney said, "and economic health is part of population health."

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN