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Phoenix nurse fashions hospital discards into totes

For four decades, Donna Dalsing watched as colleagues threw heaps of blue medical wraps in trash bins.

The Phoenix Baptist Hospital nurse said the waste bothered her. After all, the wraps clothlike polypropylene that bundles surgical utensils used in operating rooms weren dirty or mangled. She would take some of it home for personal use, but she couldn figure out how to stop the problem on a larger scale.

was like a lightbulb went off, Dalsing said. is what we can do with the blue wraps. founder of the Abrazo Health Hospital Phoenix Baptist green team, shared the idea with her team members and they started sewing.

The bags were a hit. Officials have given them out at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and I Recycle omega watches Phoenix events. The New York Times reported that many medical industries started to confront the amount of waste generated in 2010.

The nation hospitals produced nearly 6 billion tons of waste per year, according to the fall 2011 Medical Waste Management News, a quarterly publication that serves health care facility waste management workers. The publication estimated that 19 percent of the waste is blue wrap.

Blue wraps omega watches seal surgical instruments, and hospitals generally dispose of them once opened.

Focus on recycling locally

Other Arizona hospitals have recycling initiatives focused on blue wraps as well.

Jeremy Owens, St. Luke Medical Center director of material management, said the hospital reduced its use of blue wraps last year. The operating room now uses sterilization containers instead of blue wraps.

Workers wash, clean and sterilize the containers before they reu omega watches se it to bundle surgical utensils.

The change cut down on the use of blue wraps by 75 percent, Owens said.

IASIS Healthcare, which operates 20 hospitals across the nation, including St. Luke in Phoenix, recycles other medical products and diverts 22 tons of material from landfills, Owens said. The Phoenix hospital started recycling about 2005, he said.

Abrazo Health has six hospitals in the Valley,including Phoenix Baptist. The hospital started its recycling program in 2011.

The hospital green team consists of staff from Phoenix Baptist, Maryvale and Arizona Heart hospitals.

The team works with national groups with similar goals, such as Practice GreenHealth and HealthCare Without Harm. The green team collects general information on sustainability in the medical industry and networks with other sustainable medical staff throughout the nation.

Making the blue totes

Dalsing, a northwest Phoenix resident, took the helm of the hospital green team in 2011.

She is a lifetime recycler both at home and work. Before Phoenix Baptist embraced recycling, Dalsing collected recyclable material, such as soda bottles and cardboard boxes, at work and took them home to recycle.

Today, Dalsing mission is to boost the hospital recycling program.

Dalsing estimates that Phoenix Baptist throws away about 33,576 varied size sheets of wrap per year.

Her group wants to lower those numbers significantly. Once she discovered how to sew blue wraps into tote bags, she worked with the hospital officials for permission to collect the material. The team now takes some of the wraps home and sews them into bags.

One large sheet of blue wrap can create three to six ba omega watches gs, depending on their thickness and size. The shoulder bags are about 17 inches long and 15 inches wide, with a 32 inch long strap.

The bags take about 30 minutes to cut and sew.

Most recently, the green team sold handbags for Earth Day to the hospital staff. They earned about $60, which they will use to finance other recycling efforts.