In an article honoring “Green Champion” OR nurse Victoria Rice-Bean of the University of Washington Medical Center, Practice Greenhealth  discussed how “looking to new and innovative sustainable solutions is exciting, but it’s also a good idea to examine existing programs that might not be as glamorous, but are just as beneficial and important to the organization’s mission. The University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) in Seattle, Washington, has been working on greening initiatives for several years, and recently decided to take a deeper dive into the operating room department.”

Victoria Rice-Bean, the OR nurse honored, discussed how she was “shocked at how much waste a large surgical department generated. We do a lot of big cases, and there was an extraordinary amount of ‘garbage’ at the end of each case. Initially, I doubted my ability to change attitudes and practices in such a big facility. However, greening our operating room was so important to me that I went ahead and made the effort anyway.”

UWMC has implemented a reprocessing program, saving more than $383,000 annually in combined supply and disposal costs, as well as diverting 5.25 tons of waste from the landfill.

Our efforts have not been limited to recycling, however. We have educated staff on the appropriate use of red biohazard bags, drastically reducing their use and associated expense. We were also trained in the use of reprocessing bins, provided by Stryker Corporation.  We found that many items previously going into garbage or sharps containers can be reprocessed.  These bins represent the only truly cost-free waste disposal for the OR, and increasing their utilization saves the hospital money and protects the environment from excess landfill.

Full article at Practice Greenhealth here