Schulich Windsor Medical Students turn OR waste into humanitarian aid

Monday, December 5, 2011

Called "Operation Green," students have collected open but unused surgical supplies from Windsor hospitals, and are preparing their first shipment to International HOPE, a humanitarian medical resource organization assisting developing countries. The students have worked with operating room staff at Windsor Regional Hospital's Metropolitan Campus for the past six months collecting medical supplies which otherwise would have been discarded such as gloves, suture packs, and gowns. These are items that were readied for surgery, but did not end up being used. Organizers will be packing up the recycled supplies on Wednesday, December 7th at 12:10 p.m. at Windsor Regional Hospital Metropolitan Campus and media are invited. Please meet in the lobby to be escorted to the linens' area.

"We're excited that such an innovative program is off the ground in so little time here in Windsor. Not only are we reducing waste in Canada, but these materials are used in several underprivileged countries throughout the world - that's a win-win." says David Mikhail, Windsor Operation Green Co-organizer and Meds 2013 student.

Mikhail and co-organizers, Davy Tawadrous, Mackenzie Budimir-Hussey, and Alexis Taylor, emphasize that they've received overwhelming support from the administration in Windsor's hospitals. "This is very much a collaborative effort between hospital staff, and our volunteers; together we are taking great strides towards greening health care delivery in Ontario," said Budimir-Hussey.

The program was launched in London last year after Schulich medical students did a waste audit of total knee replacements at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and found an average of 8.6 kg of solid waste generated per surgery. Following that, the students launched "Operation Green" at LHSC's University Hospital, based on a Yale University initiative called "Project REMEDY." The idea was to combat the ecological footprint of health care provision, while providing desperately needed surgical supplies to the developing world. In its first shipment, London's "Operation Green" donated over 518 pounds of medical supplies, valued at nearly $15,000 to charitable organizations.

"Operation Green" has been recognized for its innovative approach receiving a number of awards totaling $6,000. These funds were directly re-invested into the program, allowing for expansion into LHSC's Victoria Hospital, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance in Chatham, Windsor Regional Hospital and most recently Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor. The next step is Toronto.