Medical Construction & Design

SEP-OCT 2014

Medical Construction & Design (MCD) is the industry's leading source for news and information and reaches all disciplines involved in the healthcare construction and design process.

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52 Medical Construction & Design | September/October 2014 By Patrick Schultz H ospital waste and soiled linen streams are large, complex and a source of concern for infection risk, high operational costs and ineffi ciency. Increasingly, hospitals consider waste management one of the most important sustainable building practices, second only to improving energy effi ciency. Improving infection control and cleanliness through sustainable operations and integrated waste management have moved to the forefront of issues facing hospitals as they seek to reduce adverse risk, improve patient safety and promote satisfaction. Challenges, dangers associated with waste and soiled linen collection The cycle of waste, recycling and soiled linen collection and transport in hospitals is a huge, never-ending operation. According to a 2010 survey from Practice Greenhealth, U.S. hospitals reported generating nearly 34 pounds of waste per day, per staffed bed. When factored against the number of staffed hospital beds, that's 5.9 million tons of waste per year. Soiled linen generated per patient bed per day accounts for another 2.6 million tons per year. At a time when hospitals are confronted with this massive task, they are also cutting annual budgets of departments considered "back-of-the- house" or "non-clinical." This includes environmental services, or EVS, the department typically responsible for removing hospital waste and soiled linen. Today, most hospitals have insuffi cient resources to move dirty material off of the patient fl oors and out of the facility in a timely manner. This shortfall causes a host of operational and safety challenges. Dirty material piles up in soiled rooms, hallways, at the bottom of gravity chutes and at the loading dock because EVS cannot move material to the dock quickly enough. Service elevators are used to carry dirty material down and clean material up. More troubling, staff, visitors and often patients use these same elevators continuously. In addition to the cleanliness issues associated with the mixing of these functions, productivity and effi ciency are compromised with longer elevator wait times for hospital staff. Finally, regulatory compliance may be impacted daily, resulting in life safety risks and possible fi nes. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores may also be negatively impacted as limited resources are forced to focus on the collection of dirty materials instead of patient care. Infection control issues Beyond these operational challenges, there appears to be a potential infection sustainable green Hospital waste The synergetic relationship of automated waste systems, sustainable operations and infection control An isometric schematic view of the automated trash, recycling and soiled linen collection and transport system being installed in the new Sanford Medical Center Fargo in Fargo, North Dakota. The facility is slated for completion in 2016. management

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