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.
Brett Higgins, CHESP
With 35 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 had been the manager of Laundry/Linen Services at Gundersen Health System (325 bed hospital/trauma and emergency center) located in La Crosse Wisconsin from 2005 to 2017. 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 until his retirement in 2016. 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.
Debbie Hurst RN, BSN, CMIP, CHESP, FAPIC, CIC Infection Prevention & Control Consultant
Debbie Hurst has been an HLAC Inspector since 2018. She is a registered nurse with nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare including 28 years spent specializing in the field of healthcare infection prevention and control. She has been board certified in Infection Control (CIC) since 1998 and also is certified by the American Hospital Association as a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP). In 2017, Debbie received the distinction of honor for Infection Preventionists from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) by being accepted into the APIC Fellowship program (FAPIC) which is a designation for advanced practitioners of infection prevention and control practice who are recognized leaders within the field.
Debbie has met the challenges of fulfilling a variety of roles during her career including extensive work nationally as a healthcare infection prevention and control consultant through both her own infection control (IC)consulting business as well as through contracted work for many different organizations. This has included close work with state health departments on IC related educational program development and animated videos, healthcare environmental services training, healthcare laundry management training and staff development programs. In her role as a healthcare consultant, educator, thought leader and dedicated nursing professional, she is able to influence and support the utilization of best healthcare practices on a large scale across the country. It is her desire to help educate, train and support key individuals, teams and organizations involved in the delivery of healthcare on best practices.
Jack Vroegh, who began his career in textile care in 1983, is the previous 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 was in the role of customer service within his organization. He received his CXO-level (Customer Experience Officer) accreditation from a leading authority in customer service.
Thomas (Tony) Fitzgerald
Thomas J, Fitzgerald III was appointed Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in June 2017 and served in that position until retired in January 2021. He previously served as Deputy Director from January 2013–June 2017. He oversees one of the most complex facilities in the VA system with an annual budget in excess of $1.1billion, more than 7,000 staff and volunteers, 808 operating beds spread between three inpatient divisions and 7 community outpatient clinics and a myriad of special programs. He was also responsible for maintaining a cooperative and supportive relationship with affiliate Stanford University School of Medicine, numerous academic affiliations in allied health programs and other community health institutions.
Mr. Fitzgerald is a Service Connected Disabled Veteran who served in the U.S Army active and reserve for 16 years as a Medical Non Commissioned Officer and served in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Mr. Fitzgerald began his VA Career in 1988 as a Nursing Assistant at the North Chicago VAMC and held the following positions at the North Chicago VAMC, Housekeeping Aid, Housekeeping Assistant General Foreman, Assistant Chief Environmental Care and Operations and Chief Environmental Care and Operations, Chief Environmental Management Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Assistant Director for VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
Mr. Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management from the American InterContinental University, he is also a graduate of the VA management development course (VAMD) in conjunction with the University of Alabama Birmingham, the Leadership VA (LVA) 2003 class and HCLI 2007 class. He is a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP) by the American Hospital Association affiliate, Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE). He is also a member of the American College of Health Care Executives.
Craig Bower, RLLD
With more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare laundry industry, Craig Bower is a seasoned professional who currently serves as an assistant director of linen and laundry operations for the top-ranked hospital in New York.
He has a deep understanding of the unique needs and challenges of healthcare providers and the healthcare systems that rely on these laundry services.
Before joining NYU Langone Health, Craig worked with various healthcare laundry companies, including Angelica Corporation, and several smaller regional operations, where he held various leadership positions. He has been instrumental in driving operational excellence, and growth for these organizations.
Craig is widely recognized as an expert in healthcare linen within hospitals and the laundries that serve them. He has worked with frontline teams and executives to bring about impactful change in within both environments.
Aside from his work in the healthcare laundry industry, Craig is actively involved in several professional organizations, including the Association for Linen Management (ALM). He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise with others in the field.
Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from SUNY and is certified by both OSHA and ALM where he currently holds a RLLD certification.