"At the end of the day, we are just guys who do laundry," David Potack, vice president of sales and marketing, uniform division of Unitex, says modestly.
There is no "just" about what Unitex does for YNHH, however. They are the largest independently owned healthcare laundry and linen service provider in the country, washing five million pounds of laundry for YNHH's main campus annually and nine million throughout the Yale-New Haven Health System. In business since 1915 under four generations of family ownership, Unitex provides linens, scrubs and uniforms, and ensures that they are not just cleaned but safely sterilized, a major concern in a healthcare setting.
Unitex has been working with YNHH for ten years, during which time the Potack team, which includes father Michael, president, and brother Robert, vice president of operations, has developed a high regard for the hospital. Michael says, "We've found that Yale-New Haven is an incredibly well run organization. It is a responsive management team, great people to work with."
David adds, "We have a tremendous amount of respect for the people, from the clinical side to the administration, and for the mission. We've been in business a long time, and it isn't often you see such a high caliber of people. There is something about them that makes us want to be part of it."
Unitex has supported many previous YNHH endeavors and were Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital Telethon sponsors for the last two years. Most recently, the company pledged $100,000 to Smilow Cancer Hospital after the Potacks heard Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD
, physician-in-chief of Smilow, speak at an event.
"Dr. Lynch's presentation was brilliant, a culmination of everything we've seen. YNHH has smart people who are consistently looking for the betterment of the institution, the community and healthcare in general. All the stars are aligned in this organization."
Medical reception areas can be, understandably, anxiety-provoking for cancer patients and their loved ones. Unitex's donation is targeted to provide a calming, less stressful and more positive environment in the seventh floor pediatric treatment reception area—including the area's fish tank which will be named for the company in gratitude for the gift. (Studies have shown that patients find fish more soothing than televisions and make for a more tranquil atmosphere.)
"We opted to give to the pediatrics side because as a family, we've been very blessed that our children and grandchildren are healthy. We want to give thanks for that and help other families," explains David, adding, "My kids can't wait to go see the fish."
Robert says, "We know we are lucky, and because of that we feel it is important to give back. Of all the places we thought about donating to, Yale-New Haven seems most like us. We believe in their values. We know that supporting the hospital is the right thing to do."