JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND -- One local hospital has made a top priority this week of ...well, talking about number 2.
Jersey City Medical Center said in a press release on Monday that they are "doing something innovative and environmentally correct" about the patient waste that they collect for diagnostic purposes.
Normally, hospitals pay high feels to haul the waste to area landfills. They note, "Costs are based on the weight of the debris, which includes the plastic containers used to collect urine and feces."
Now, the nurses at JCMC are using a new waste removal system. Last month at a conference for emergency nurses, Cris Amato, a nurse educator in the hospital’s E.R., saw a demonstration of a new method for recycling human waste. The Vernacare system, developed by a UK-based company, is designed to reduce cross contamination and improve infection control so as to maximize patient and practitioner safety.
The system uses a machine called a macerator, which is the size of a small washing machine and is housed in the Emergency Department's utility room.
The macerator first chews up or “macerates” the biodegradable utensils nurses have been given to collect waste from patients. These utensils replace the familiar plastic cups used to collect specimens.
After separating the tools from the stools, so to speak, the macerator then eliminates the patient waste as would a toilet by flushing it through the sewage system.
"Before, we would provide a patient with a plastic bedpan, and there was always the possibility of it splashing when you [discarded] it,” said Amato. “It was not a great experience. The staff likes this system much better because it’s cleaner and you don’t come in contact with the waste. And, the utility room smells much better now too.”
She said the use of plastic in the department has been cut by about 70 percent in the short time the Vernacare system has been used. This concurs with the hospital’s “green” policy. From a financial perspective, she believes the investment for the system in terms of the reduction in hauling fees will pay for itself within the first year.
Jersey City Medical Center has been recognized for a number of environmentally-conscious initiatives it has implemented in recent months, including putting a “green team” in place. These initiatives have included greatly increasing the percentage of hospital waste recycled, using environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies, dramatically cutting down on pharmaceuticals that enter the water supply, eliminating many of its printed annual and board reports by sending them electronically, and offering incentives to staff and visitors to its cafeteria and gift shop that encourage them to bring their own tea and coffee cups.
“We are making our green initiative a priority,” said Joseph F. Scott, President and Chief Executive Officer. “This means actively investigating those opportunities that will help to reduce our footprint on the planet, and make it a better place to live.”
In other words, they're doing their duty -- one bedpan at a time.