A lot of us dread it when the laundry piles up. That happens every day for Charlene Henderson, but it’s a challenge she loves.
That’s hard to believe when you consider she manages the washing, drying, pressing and folding for about 40,000 pounds – or 20 tons of laundry each day.
“I started on the ironer when I was 19 years old,” she said. “Now, almost 17 years later, I’m the production manager.” Henderson works at Enterprise Laundry, which is responsible for all the linens for Mercy’s hospitals in Southwest Missouri.
Henderson grew up watching her mom care for patients at Mercy Hospital Springfield, and always planned on a career in health care herself. “I was working here and going to school to become an EMT (emergency medical technician),” she said. “I got my EMT license, but I’d already started to move up here and I loved my job. So I stuck around.”
Along with hiring new workers, planning for supplies and new equipment, and making sure everything is running correctly, Henderson enjoys pitching in to keep the laundry moving through the facility so it can get back where it’s needed. “I don’t like to sit around and be idle. I like to be up and active all day long.”
Henderson knows how important her work is when it comes to infection prevention and patient comfort. “The hospitals can’t do what they do for patients without what we do here,” she explained. “Everyone on our team knows our work has to get finished because the hospitals depend on us.”
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.