CAMBUS partners with UI Laundry Services to deliver clean linen to UIHC

UI Laundry Services and CAMBUS are partnering to deliver clean linen to UI Hospital and Clinics, amid a heightened need for drivers and community spread of the novel coronavirus.


Jenna Galligan

Cambuses pick up and drop off passengers at the WCTC stop on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Marissa Smith, News Reporter

University of Iowa Laundry Services has enlisted Cambus to help deliver crucial linen to UI Hospitals and Clinics, amid community spread of the novel coronavirus.

The two groups have worked collaboratively on a daily basis in the past and began brainstorming how to help when the hospitals were initially faced with the outbreak of COVID-19. Both services identified the need for an increased number of drivers in the laundry department, and ultimately petitioned CAMBUS drivers to volunteer their time.

“The Cambus student employees have done an amazing job and have been really willing to do what needs to be done,” said Brian McClatchey, Cambus assistant director.

According to McClatchey, because of their joint preparation, Cambus and UI Laundry Services were ready to meet the challenges COVID-19 presented.

“This was really an effort to be prepared for what came up,” McClatchey said.

Laundry Services Assistant Director Ben Barreras said his department has always worked closely with the hospital. About 95 percent of its duties are hospital affairs, he said.

Clean linen includes anything from scrubs and surgical gowns to towels and patient bedding, Barreras said.

“If that is not available for the hospital, they cannot function,” Barreras said. “It’s more important than ever to provide that in a timely manner and get them what they need.”

All Laundry Services employees and Cambus drivers are provided with the correct Personal Protective Equipment in order to stay as safe as possible, Barreras said.

In addition to their existing supply of face masks and gloves, Cambus drivers have created a GoFundMe to raise money and purchase personal, Cambus -themed masks.

Mia Brunelli, Cambus operations manager, facilitated the GoFundMe and said the masks are not necessarily a need, but something fun to lift the drivers’ spirits.

The GoFundMe reached its goal within five hours, which Brunelli said exceeded her expectations.

Jason Rathjen, a UI fourth-year and electrical-engineering student, said delivering linens allows him to provide aid in a time of need and practice unique skill sets beyond driving the Cambus.

“It feels good to know I’m the one out there making sure operations are happening,” Rathjen said.

Rathjen added that a feeling of camaraderie among his co-workers boosts feelings of reward.

“The pride comes from knowing I’m part of a group of people that takes pride in their work and makes sure other people are able to do what they need to do,” said Rathjen.

RELATED: Cambus changes routes to accommodate for University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

One of his co-workers, UI third-year and biomedical-engineering major Maddy Wilson, said that being an essential worker is rewarding, but there’s more to it than just the title.

“It is a good feeling when you get to say, ‘I’m an essential worker,’ ” Wilson said. “But you also have to think of it as it’s not really just the title that matters.”

Barreras said that Cambus drivers are on the frontlines of the pandemic, assisting in delivering clean linen, taking back soiled linen to UI Laundry Services, and folding and processing clean linens.

Wilson added that they’re even finding amusement in doing laundry.

“I feel like something about folding other people’s laundry in mass quantities is fun,” Wilson said.

Supervisors in both Laundry Services and Cambus said they are extremely proud of the hard work that students are doing, emphasizing how rapidly changing the situation is and how they are giving back to their community in a time of need.

“They’ve really jumped at this and their willingness to volunteer to help out laundry is awesome,” Barreras said. “They’re complete team players and we’re very appreciative of their support.”

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