Penn Medicine Spearheads Several Sustainability Measures to Reduce Environmental Footprint

April 1, 2024
Recycling single-use devices, going paperless, and using products unfit for patient use for trainings have taken off in their facilities

Several individuals and teams within Penn Medicine have taken steps toward increased sustainability within their facilities.

At Penn Presbyterian Medical Center (PPMC), clinical nurse educator Melissa Esterly, MSN, RN, CNOR, leads Gateway to the OR, which is a “training program which teaches new operating room nurses key skills for this specialized role.” Major parts of the training involve learning “how to properly open sterile surgical equipment, set up a sterile field, drape a patient, and more,” and many of these practices require “real surgical supplies.” To cut back on waste, “Esterly began asking her colleagues to save their materials whenever a procedure had been canceled or when disposing of expired products.” These products, which cannot be used on patients anymore, now take on “a second life in Esterly’s training courses.”

Craig Wynne, MD, a professor of General Internal Medicine, has seen the division “turn off all automatic printing of lab and radiology orders as part of its growing no-print initiative. Over the last three years, there has been a progression in reducing their overall printing.”

PPMC at large has made major steps toward going paperless. The hospital’s surgery team “decided to digitize its three-page pathology specimen requisition form to cut down on paper waste” about a year and a half ago. There have also been new contactless check-in processes implemented that have reduced paper use.

Additionally, the Value Analysis team at Lancaster General Health (LG Health) has partnered with Stryker Sustainability Solutions “to work on reprocessing certain single-use devices such as pulse oximeters” by placing collection boxes throughout the facilities. Stryker then “takes the collected [used] items back to a reprocessing plant to be taken apart, fully sterilized, put back together, and then tested to make sure they are up to standards.” This initiative has already borne fruits, as “in 2023, the Women and Babies Hospital at LG Health had 1,931 pounds of waste collected and repossessed.”

Penn Medicine’s news blog has the article.