Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Daniel Cook, Managing Editor

Go green. Some of you might consider that catch-phrase marketing buzz best suited for administrators who ride bikes to solar-paneled facilities in the Pacific Northwest. But we’re here to tell you that the benefits of sustainability go beyond reducing carbon footprints and ending global warming. Going green can pay you back. Big time. Here are some ways to pad your bottom line with environmentally friendly solutions to everyday tasks…

3. Reprocessed single-use devices
Patricia Keenan, RN, CASC, ships the single-use burrs, blades and shavers used at the Orthopaedic Surgery Center of Clearwater to a certified reprocessing company to save her facility thousands.

The administrator and director of nursing at the Florida surgery center says her staff places used disposables into a drop box located in the decontamination room. A rep from the reprocessing firm stops by twice a month to package the used items and ship them away for refurbishing. Within 7 to 10 days, the items are returned to the facility, ready for use. Buying refurbished supplies costs 40% to 50% of the original manufacturer’s price, says Ms. Keenan, which saves her facility upwards of $45,000 a year in disposable purchasing costs. It has also slashed 75% off of the amount of regulated waste — that’s disposed of in large red boxes at a cost of $15 each — generated by the facility. “We used to produce 50 boxes of waste per week,” she explains. “Now we’re down to just 20.”

Ms. Keenan is also quick to note the manpower hours she’s saving by reprocessing single-use devices. Fewer supplies are purchased, meaning fewer purchase orders are filled out. “The less amount of time and the fewer people involved in the purchasing of items reduce monthly salary expenses spent on supply management,” she explains.

Those hourly-wage savings are realized on the back end, too. One of Ms. Keenan’s surgical techs spends 5 to 6 fewer hours each week organizing and disposing of those 20 boxes, freeing him up to focus more of his energy on patient-care responsibilities. And that, in turn, means Ms. Keenan doesn’t have to hire as many PRNs to make up for the time he used to spend wrangling waste outside of the ORs…

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