Cincinnati Children’s supplies recycling bins throughout the entire facility and advocates a paperless charting system (EPIC Systems). Now the Radiology Department has partnered up with Mathew 25: Ministries to take this idea of recycling everything to a whole new level.
While the department has cut back on paper usage and shifted the culture to encourage the appropriate disposal of paper, glass, and cardboard items, what about medical supplies? Medical facilities around the country, Cincinnati Children’s included, are constantly attempting to obtain that perfect balance of supplies as compared to our patients’ needs. If there are too few items, there aren’t enough supplies to take care of the patients. If there are too many items, then supplies expire before being utilized. In an effort to always be prepared, most hospitals err on the side of caution, choosing to overstock rather than understock if the situation allows. But, this brings up the obvious question, “What do we do with all this expired waste?”
This is where Mathew 25: Ministries (M25M), a not-for-profit organization, comes into play. Since 1990, M25M has been collecting all sorts of gently used and otherwise deemed no longer useful (expired) items to redistribute throughout the United States and the world. According to M25M’s website, they have donated over $1 billion worth of product (weighing over 150,000,000 cumulative pounds) since their establishment in the early 90’s.
One of the reasons this organization has been so successful is because the FDA is particularly strict on expiration dates. In third world countries, their regulations do not require the same practice standards. Therefore, what we must consider trash and aim to get rid of could be considered lifesaving for others. M25M takes out any of the guess work. They receive our discarded items, decide what can be utilized within their programs, and separate out the supplies that are too damaged or unusable.
In a beautiful way M25M’s and Cincinnati Children’s Radiology’s partnership has created a circle of life for medical waste. It also gives us motivated to keep storage areas updated. Cleaning out the department doesn’t seem quite as bad when you can look at it as donating to others!