of ensuring their ORs are healthier for patients and the planet?” she asks.

Green Your OR

Recycle, use eco-friendly products and identify a sustainability champion in your center BY ROBERT KURTZ


n operating room (OR) produces a lot of waste. but waste can cre-

ate opportunity. “Almost everything in healthcare has packaging associated with it. That is unavoidable, and especially true for the OR where packaging helps keep items sterile,” says Solvei Kromm, RN, a preop and post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurse at Foothills Surgery Center in Boulder, Colorado. “While much of the packaging needs to go into the landfill, some of it we can recycle. When it comes to recycling, a little goes a long way.” ASCs that

prioritize reducing the

environmental impact of their ORs can reap significant rewards, says Julie Moyle, RN, member engagement man- ager at Practice Greenhealth headquar- tered in Reston, Virginia. Practice Green- health, a membership and networking organization for health care institutions, takes part in sustainable, environmen- tally preferable practices. “Our members have demonstrated how recommended practices can deliver

an average annual savings of $56,000 per OR by prioritizing and eliminating waste, using energy and water more effi- ciently and minimizing environmental impacts of waste anesthesia gas,” says Moyle, who also is a staff nurse at Avista Surgery Center in Boulder, Colorado. Improving margins is not the only

reason ASCs are working to green their ORs, says Candace Little, RN, clinical director of perioperative and interventional supply chain services for Premier, a healthcare improve- ment company. “As they strive to care for their patients and communities, we are seeing some providers broadening the scope of their missions to be more mindful of reducing their environmen- tal impacts and minimizing negative public health consequences.” These efforts, Moyle says, also

can improve patient, occupational and environmental safety; staff satisfaction and productivity; and patient experi- ences. “Who does not want to be a part


Getting Started To launch your ASC’s green program on solid footing, Moyle recommends bring- ing together a team of individuals who are interested in the initiative. “Then,” she says, “conduct a baseline assess- ment of your current practice to identify opportunities for improvement. The team can then prioritize those opportunities according to what is most important and in line with organizational priorities.” As a start, she suggests working with your building manager and energy and utility companies to identify sav- ings opportunities. She recommends conducting a team walkthrough of the facility to identify equipment, comput- ers, lighting, HVAC settings and medical gases and vacuum that can be shut off or set back during off-hours.

Little recommends seeking suppliers

that offer waste-reducing products. To assess a product properly, Moyle says, ASCs need to look beyond the purchase price. Instead, they can gain a better understanding of the total cost of a prod- uct by reviewing lifecycle assessment studies that are available. “These reveal the true ownership costs of products from natural resource extraction, produc- tion and distribution to product disposal and end-of-life management,” she says. Other ways Moyle says ASCs can

improve operational efficiency and achieve cost savings at the same time include using LED surgical lighting, reusable sterilization containers and device reprocessing and reviewing pro- cedural packs to remove unused items. Little advises ASCs not to view green initiatives simply through the lens of dollars saved. “Consider the reduced carbon footprint or negative environ- mental impact,” she says. “While these may be more difficult to quantify, they should factor into your equation.” While recycling is a volatile mar-

ket for medical clinical plastics, Moyle says, it remains an area of opportu-

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