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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Medical Center Steps Up Environmental Protection Efforts

    Stony Brook University Medical Center’s quest to protect the environment started about a year ago. Some of the “Go Green” initiatives sprouting up throughout the hospital include recycling more and using reusable water bottles.

    “Stony Brook was great to work with and they exceeded the minimum requirements,” Lin Hill said, one of the employees who reviewed Stony Brook’s application. The hospitals also have to include what they pledge to do over the next couple of years and their goals for the future.

    One of the things that Stony Brook is looking to do over the next few years is reduce of Blue Wrap, a product used to wrap and store sterilized instruments. The medical center would like to switch to plastic containers in an effort to reduce even more waste.

    Another item on the medical center’s list is disposing of even more hazardous waste and paper records by switching over to electronic records.

    In an effort to mobilize employees, Stony Brook is also holding contests for employees.

    “You Got Caught Being Safe” is a monthly contest for all Stony Brook employees. The idea is to be “caught” being safe or environmentally responsible and be rewarded with a refillable coffee mug. This mug gets the employee a cheaper refill price at the cafeteria.

    “The King and Queen of Green” is another employee contest. Employees can participate by emailing the Department of Environmental Health and Safety all the ideas about helping the environment they can think of. In January, the department will announce one queen and one king who came up with the best ideas.

    In order to make sure that the medical center is doing everything they can to go green, they formed a committee to look at green initiatives. This is called the Go Green pillar, which contains goals for the hospital to complete through 2011.

    “The community should be proud to have a hospital that is so forward looking, it’s very difficult for hospitals to continue to grow and have new programs and Stony Brook has showed that it is very capable of doing that,” Hill said.

    The hospital’s efforts earned the Partner for Change award, a prize won by only a handful of over 120 applicants.

    Every application submitted for an award is reviewed by an independent observer, which can include another hospital or associated business, and one Practice Green Health employee.

    “The Partner for Change award recognizes health care facilities that continuously improve and expand upon their mercury elimination, waste reduction, and pollution prevention programs,” the Practice for Green Health website said.

    Practice for Green Health is the non-profit organization that distributed the awards. “At minimum, facilities applying for this award must be recycling 10 percent of their total waste, have a mercury elimination program in place with a plan for total elimination, and have developed other successful pollution prevention programs.”

    The medical center had a lot of waste before coming up with the Go Green Pillar. It consisted of solid waste, such as regular trash and paper, hazardous waste, such as chemicals and chemotherapy drugs, and finally, regulated medical waste, which consists of contaminated items, blood, and sharps. To make sure that everything gets thrown away where it’s supposed to, the medical center put clearly labeled containers on every floor with pictures of what is supposed to go in it.

    The medical center is also looking to recycle the alkaline batteries that can be found in beepers and glucose monitors, to name a few. Alkaline batteries are considered a solid waste and by recycling them, Stony Brook would reduce its waste even more.

    Stony Brook now has signs on their storm water drains at the Ambulatory Care Pavilion and the Ambulatory Surgery Center, as well as on the medical center itself. These signs simply say “No Dumping — Drains To Sound” and the medical center makes sure that nothing gets put in there that doesn’t belong.

    The medical center also has a hazardous materials and waste subcommittee that meets every two months to discuss hazardous waste issues as well as environmental issues. This subcommittee has representation from the laboratories, pharmacy, offsites, materials management, nursing, hospital custodial services, ambulatory surgery center, and purchasing and food center.

    In another effort to reduce its waste, the medical center now allows medical devices to be ordered in reduced packaging. Once these items have arrived at the hospital, they can also be sent back to the company. Although employees are not required to buy the reduced packaging, they are strongly encouraged to do so.

    Not all that is happening in the medical center has to do with the upper floors. On the same level as the lobby, the Market Place Cafe is also looking at different ways to go green. Not only are they recycling more but they also have hormone-free milk, environmentally friendly food containers, silverware instead of plastic forks and knifes, and refillable coffee mugs.

    The coffee mugs, as mentioned before, have a cheaper refill price than the paper cups. In addition, in part to reduce its waste, the cafeteria is now recycling #1 and #2 plastic bottles and beverage cans and is starting to look at the recycling #10 cans.

    If anybody has been to the hospital in recent months, they may have noticed that there is a lot of construction going on. These renovations, such as the new lobby and the Ambulatory Care Pavilion, have all been rebuilt at green standards, such as wood and energy efficient light bulbs. This helps the medical center be much more energy efficient than before.

    One of the biggest “Go Green” initiatives the medical center has done happened in 2006. This is when the hospital went mercury-free. For this step in environment and patient safety, Stony Brook received the highest award from the EPA called the Environmental Quality Award.

    Mercury is a dangerous and toxic substance that is more harmful than lead and arsenic. By getting rid of mercury, the hospital is not only helping the environment but also protecting the patients’ health.

    The medical center took the green initiatives outside and made the hospital grounds pesticide free. “In Long Island, our drinking water comes from the ground water. In addition to protecting our drinking water, we don’t want patients and staff to be exposed to pesticides as they walk around the hospital grounds,” said Carol Malley.

    In an effort to conserve water, the medical center now allows the patients to decide when to wash their linens, of course, if it is soiled in any way, then the hospital will wash it. The nursing staff is in charge with making sure each patient and his or her family understands this.

    The Department of Environmental Health and Safety wants to make sure that all employees were notified on the green initiatives and created a newsletter called SafeWatch.

    It is posted on the Hospital Intranet website and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety website. It is also emailed to nursing, hospital department heads, medical staff and hospital offsite practices.

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