Sustainability in the Nursing Department
The School of Health’s Nursing department has embarked on an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, primarily in lab contexts.
Health care is not the first sector you might think of for opportunities for waste reduction. But IZUNA Nursing has embarked on a wide-ranging “3 Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle – program as it aims to train many of the nurses in our province. The Nursing department has focused on four main areas:
- reduction, reuse and recycling of wet and sharps
- paper reduction
- other recycling
- mobile devices
Everything that is not ‘wet’ or ‘sharp’ is reused and recycled.
- IV Bags are refilled for labs or access ports are converted for student open lab use (a port is a cap on an IV bag used to connect IV tubing or insert medication). When IV bags are empty they are recycled as IV drainage arms on dolls or in lab scenarios.
- IV tubing for infusion pumps is re-used in open lab.
- IV tubing (continue-flo and secondary) are drained. Packaging is saved to reuse and re-package the tubing as “simulated sterile” for other labs and student practice.
- Syringes are repacked for multiple uses. When discarded, the plastic cases are recycled.
- Pre-filled syringes are filled with water for multiple uses. Ampoules are refilled with water and put out for practice.
- Plastic vials are refilled with water and labelled to simulate meds.
- Foley catheters are repackaged until they no longer inflate.
- Urine bags are used as long as they hold up.
- Catheter, irrigation and dressing sets are rewrapped for multiple uses. When dismantled, anything appropriate is recycled.
- Dressings (4x4’s, 2 x 2’s, drain sponges, ABD pads, etc.) are repackaged to simulate sterile, or put out for students to repack their dressing kits.
- Old gauze is saved for cleaning doll arms and tummies.
- Normal saline bottles are refilled with water. Savlon/lubricant is simulated using dish soap in reusable containers.
Instructors are cutting down on paper
- All instructors are using the online tool Desire To Gravity (D2L) for students to access resources, and paper handouts are eliminated whenever possible.
- Instead of printing out medical administration records (MARs), physician orders, and scenarios for each class, these are placed in plastic sleeves and the students write on them with dry erase markers that can be wiped clean between classes. These are then reused for various classes and in subsequent semesters.
- Students in Level 1 receive their own MAR with a list of all meds for the semester which they reuse for each class, and then take home prior to skills testing. Level 2 students receive a dressing kit (dressing tray, gauze, drain sponge, & ABD pad) to use in L2 labs, practice labs, home practice, and Level 4 wound care labs.
- “Open lab,” which students attend in their own time, has a binder with resources in plastic sleeves for repeated use.
Beyond the usual paper and beverage container recycling (the deposits on these go to the Angela Mazzacato nursing student fund), the department also ensures that:
- All sharps are discarded into sharps/biohazard containers, boxed up, and sent out to be properly disposed of before they go off to recycling.
- At the end of the winter term, supplies that are no longer of use are sent to developing countries through the Rotary Club.
- The Bachelor of Science in Nursing and specialty programs are actively supporting students in the use of mobile devices loaded with healthcare software to use as a resource, which helps reduce the number of textbooks needed.
- Students will be able to access D2L through their handheld computers by the Fall 2011 semester.
It’s worth looking for ways to make systems more efficient – money and resources can be saved.
Sandra del Vecchio, Lab Coordinator, Nursing
Glynda Doyle, Faculty, Nursing