Going Green in the Lab Saves Money

Recycling isn’t just good for the earth—it can benefit a hospital’s bottom line, too.

Recycling isn’t just good for the earth—it can benefit a hospital’s bottom line, too. A year ago, the Electrophysiology (EP) Lab at Fairview Hospital began recycling catheters. By the end of 2012, the lab had recycled 51 pounds of catheters and saved $24,749.

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“Knowing that we are helping the environment, avoiding unnecessary waste and creating savings for the hospital is huge,” says Traci Sustersic, BSN, RN, CCDS, RCES, Nurse Manager , Section of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology at Fairview Hospital, one of Cleveland Clinic’s eight community hospitals.

The EP lab began recycling catheters after nurses read an article about the process. Now, the Fairview lab partners with Stryker Sustainability Solutions, which collects the catheters to clean, disassemble and reprocess them according to FDA guidelines. “Every part of the catheter that isn’t re-sterilized is somehow reused,” says Sustersic.

The process is simple for EP nurses—they wipe down used catheters and place them in bags in the utility room for Stryker to pick up once a week. Fairview then purchases recycled catheters from the company at a discounted price. The EP lab also recycles single-use blood pressure cuffs with Stryker.

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Recycling medical devices is part of Fairview’s “Electrophysiology Goes Green” program, which began in 2011 and was spearheaded by Carrie Cumberledge, BSN, RN, RCES after she learned about recycling efforts at other labs when she attended an RN First Assist Program. “I started thinking about all the stuff we throw away that could be recycled,” says Cumberledge. The lab threw away a lot of plastic wrap and packaging from the EP packs it receives that include bowls, towels and other procedure items.

Cumberledge contacted Gino Bompiede, Director of Environmental Services at Fairview, and he was able to provide blue recyclable bins the next day. She then began educating all of the lab’s nurses on how recyclables are collected, what can be recycled and how the program benefits the environment and the hospital.

The program was so successful that Cumberledge created a poster presentation for Cleveland Clinic’s Zielony Nursing Institute’s Shared Governance Day last year. With nurses taking the lead, the EP lab helped Fairview Hospital recycle a total of 720.6 tons in 2011. “It’s great to know we’re making a difference,” says Cumberledge, who is always on the lookout for other ways the EP lab can reduce waste.