An OR nurses traditional waste not, want not values has helped to create a more sustainable culture at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando, which parent company Orlando Health plans to introduce throughout its entire hospital system of six hospitals and a cancer treatment facility.
I grew up in an economically depressed area, so when you had something you could use again, you kept it and used it, said Kristin Yager, RN, BSN, CNOR, an OR nurse and Green Team member at the hospital, who has educated fellow nurses about recycling and increased the amount of OR waste used for other purposes nearly four-fold. The recyclable amount has skyrocketed.Kristin Yager, RN
Yager estimates 80% to 90% of the OR RNs are gung-ho about recycling. The nurses place plastic saline bottles, hard-plastic and clear-peal packaging material and blue wrap from instrument trays into recycling bins, and a recycling company takes it from there. She sends unused water pitchers to art teachers and faith community projects, short plastic rulers go to elementary students and she continues to research other secondary uses for clean disposable items.
If you can help somebody else and not throw it into the landfill, thats the way to go, said Yager, who spearheaded similar recycling efforts at her former employer, Bassett Healthcare Network in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Yager also figured out if nurses turned the OR lights off for four hours when the rooms were not occupied, the savings per room would power a two-family home for a day. Her enthusiasm for saving the planets resources spread to the rest of the Green Team at Dr. P. Phillips. Ive never seen a group of people so cohesive about going green, Yager said. Across the board, interdepartmentally, they are fabulous and positive about it. They dont stop at the expected; there always is someone going the extra mile to figure out what else we can do, and I am happy to be a part of that.
Dr. P. Phillips Hospital partnered with the Department of Environmental Protections Energy Star program, setting and achieving a goal to reduce energy consumption by 10%, as part of the federal National Building Competition. Only 12 hospitals participated nationally, and Dr. P. Phillips came in fourth among the hospitals. That [competition] was the trigger for moving forward with a robust energy-conservation effort, said Bob Resetar, energy conservation manager at Orlando Health.
The hospital purchases sustainable products, uses green cleaning supplies and has installed low-flow plumbing fixtures. Dr. P. Phillips is saving about 942,839 kilowatt hours and more than 200,000 gallons of water annually. Orlando Health plans to seek U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for existing buildings for Dr. P. Phillips.
Resetar calls Dr. P. Phillips a model for the entire organization, which will roll out a systemwide green competition on Earth Day, April 22, 2012. He says money saved on electrical bills can be reinvested into patient care. Having a healthy, safe place to work and be a patient in is a goal for our corporation, Resetar said. The attitude and commitment of people [at Dr. P. Phillips] is phenomenal, and we are going to try to transplant that.