WHY HLAC - INSPECTORS
The Board of Directors selects HLAC Inspectors. They are independent contractors who have wide-ranging experience in the industry, and they are distinguished in skill, temperament, and integrity. Each inspector is provided with in-depth training of HLAC standards and inspection guidelines before they begin their work.
Thomas J. Fitzgerald III, BBA, CHESP
Thomas J. Fitzgerald III attended Grambling State University, Fitzgerald is a service-connected disabled veteran, serving in the U.S Army from 1982-1998 as a medical non-commissioned officer, and served in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He is also a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services
Professional (CHESP) and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management. He is currently completing his MBA.
Fitzgerald is currently the Deputy Health Care System Director for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. In this position, he serves as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the health care system which includes three inpatient medical facilities and seven community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC).
Fitzgerald serves on numerous committees at the local level. He is the recipient of the 2001 VACO Environmental Leadership Award, 2002 VACO Environmental Champion Award, 2002 VHA Closing the Circle Award for Recycling, 2003 VACO Environmental Directors Award, VACO 2004 Environmental Leadership Award and the 2008 ASHES Phoenix Award winner. Fitzgerald is past president (2004,2005)
of the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES) now the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), a division of The American Hospital Association, he is also a member of the American College of Health Care Executives.
Brett Higgins, CHESP
With 25 plus years of experience, Brett Higgins is a seasoned healthcare professional currently serving as Director of Environmental Services for Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa.
Brett began his career in 1983 as Director of Housekeeping and Laundry Services for the Jane Lamb Health Center in Clinton, Iowa. Working his way up the ranks, he has managed and directed environmental service departments for Mercy Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital also located in Davenport, Iowa, building a solid understanding of laundry facility operations from the ground up. Duties included managing the day-to-day operations of 200+ bed facilities.
His most recent experience includes managing a 502-bed dual-campus facility, administering a $5.2 million operating budget and $2.4 million capital budget, customer account management, facility planning and design, benchmarking and productivity projects and more. Well versed in every operational aspect of the healthcare laundry, Brett brings a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise to the HLAC team of inspectors.
Brett is a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP), the premier certification for environmental managers serving the healthcare industry.
Gettysburg (George) Huber, RLLD
G. George Huber has been a manager of Laundry/Linen Services since 2006 at Gundersen Health System a 325 bed hospital/trauma and emergency center located in La Crosse Wisconsin. He attended the American Laundry and Linen College, Eastern Kentucky University, successfully completing the Registered Laundry and Linen Director Program in 2007.
Prior to his 12 years in the laundry business Huber worked as a project/engineering manager and quality team leader for Trane Company, an international manufacturer of commercial air conditioning products where he taught Demand Flow Manufacturing techniques and was a Six Sigma Green Belt.
Huber was the recipient of the 2015 “Heywood Wiley Manager of the Year” award from the Association for Linen Management (ALM) of which he has been a member since 2006. He has served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Upper Mississippi Valley Chapter of ALM since 2006 and is a chapter Education committee member. Huber facilitated an extensive LEAN project at GHS to evaluate the feasibility of maintaining an on premise Laundry to the highest standards in a healthcare setting and led a team to successfully attain a certificate of accreditation from Healthcare laundry Accreditation Council. He also implemented a dual purpose Laundry Safety/Sharps data collection system. Huber serves on the Central Service Advisory Committee representing the Laundry at Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse.
Kevin P. McDonough
With more than 30 years of working in the Environmental Safety and Health (EHS) field, Kevin P. McDonough brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience to his HLAC Inspector position. He holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Safety Management.
For the past 10 years, McDonough has worked directly in EHS for the healthcare laundry industry. He is currently the Director of Health and Safety at Clarus Linen Systems, a Buffalo, NY-based company providing linen management products and systems to hospitals, long-term care facilities and clinics in Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Prior to this, he worked for Angelica Corporation.
In his role at Clarus, McDonough ensures that the company is in compliance with relevant regulations, drives safety and health improvements throughout the organization and directs implementation of infection control strategies in accordance with third-party HLAC accreditation standards. He has led multiple facilities in the promotion of effective worksite-based employee and patient safety and health programs, and he was the project manager for the first healthcare laundry in the nation to achieve the federal government’s highest safety recognition (the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program, Star Category), which recognizes employers that demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards.
Richard Phelon is vice president of operations for Gulf Coast Laundry Services in Gulfport, Mississippi, where much of his work has involved rebuilding the business in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to Gulf Coast Laundry, Phelon spent 12 years at Hospital Linen Systems (HLS) in Wheeling, Ill., where he began as director of engineering and went on to serve as interim general manager, vice president of engineering, and executive vice president.
While with HLS, Phelon closed two rented facilities and prepared them for return to the owners and oversaw the design and construction of a new laundry facility with a two-shift capacity of 84,000,000 pounds per year. In addition, he designed and oversaw building of a 23,000 sq. ft. sterile pack area producing over 4,000 sterile packs daily.
Phelon’s industry roots are deep. He began work as a mechanic in 1963 for Roy Maddocks, Inc, a company that performed repairs, installation and rigging for laundries in New England and surrounding states.
In 1975, Phelon formed Phelon Enterprises, Inc., performing repairs and installation of laundry machinery and installation of laundry monorail systems. Late in 1977, he moved to Ft Lauderdale, Fla., to work Mercury Services. During his tenure with Mercury Services he served as corporate engineer and director of operations.
In 1986, Phelon took a position as western regional engineer for Service Control Corporation (SCC) with responsibility for plants in Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, and El Paso. After a year, SCC purchased two companies in Florida at which time Phelon returned to Florida as southeastern regional engineer with responsibility for 17 plants and depots in the state.
In 1989, Phelon joined Initial USA as regional engineer for South Florida. Before joining HLS in the Chicago area, Phelon worked for the Mirage Resorts in Las Vegas as director of engineering and was a member of a team hired to design, build and operate a laundry for the existing and future Mirage properties.
Jack Vroegh, who began his career in textile care in 1983, is co-owner of a Merrillville, IN-based ImageFIRST Healthcare Laundry Specialists franchise serving the metropolitan areas of Chicago; Evansville, Indianapolis and South Bend, IN; and Louisville and Lexington, KY. ImageFIRST, based in King of Prussia, PA, is one of the nation’s largest healthcare linen laundry services.
Prior to starting the ImageFIRST location, Vroegh and his family had owned one of the largest specialty cleaning companies in the United States, serving clients throughout the northern half of Illinois and Indiana. During his time with ImageFIRST, Vroegh has served as one of the company’s infection prevention auditors, inspecting the company’s numerous plants and depots to ensure compliance with ImageFIRST standards, which meet or exceed those of HLAC. Likewise, in his position of HLAC Inspector, Vroegh says he brings the knowledge of HLAC processes and standards for ensuring that products being shipped from the laundry adhere to professionally recognized infection prevention and control policies.
In addition to patient safety, another specialty of Vroegh's is the role of customer service within his organization. He received his CXO-level (Customer Experience Officer) accreditation from a leading authority in customer service.
Aaron R. Gersh, PhD, CHESP, MACHE, is a former board member of HLAC and served on the organization’s inspection committee that developed HLAC’s updated 2016 “Accreditation Standards for Processing Reusable Textiles for Use in Healthcare Facilities.” The HLAC Accreditation Standards are established as the minimum acceptable practice for the preparation of hygienically clean, reusable healthcare textiles for patient care, implemented and executed by accredited laundry facilities processing reusable healthcare textiles.
Currently, Gersh is corporate project manager of Xanitos Inc., a management company that provides hospital EVS, patient transport and laundry services to hospitals nationwide. He has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare support services management, including EVS, laundry and linen, patient transport, facilities management, parking systems and outside grounds. He holds a Six Sigma Lean Black Belt Certification with a concentration in healthcare, value stream analysis.
Having such certification ensures an individual has the the skills to lead a process improvement project within the healthcare industry. As such, Gersh has noted: “Healthcare needs to maintain the highest quality and standards so as to effectively provide patients with a healing environment. The management and operation of properly processing the linen that comes into contact with every patient and member of the healthcare team is critical in the care process. Supporting laundry production operations in maintaining the highest standards is the fundamental purpose of HLAC. As an inspector, I will help the culture of excellence and learning within the healthcare laundry community.”