3-time Greening the OR champ saves $1 million

Published: 08/07/2020 - 10:08
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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center building

For the third year in a row, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) received Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the OR Leadership Award for their industry-leading, comprehensive program, which reduces the environmental impact of MSK’s surgical suites.

MSK’s continued leadership and success would not be possible without prioritizing stakeholder engagement from every department – evidenced by their more than 400 staff volunteering as GreenReps, dedicated task forces across various departments, and broad representation on their Greening the OR Committee from anesthesiology, environmental services, facilities management, hospital administration, nursing, perioperative services, radiology, supply chain, surgery, sustainability, and other departments.

“MSK recognizes the outsized environmental footprint that our surgical suites can have compared to other areas,” says Shane Dunne, MSK’s sustainability manager. “This award is a testament to the ongoing collaboration across departments in pursuing innovation and advancing sustainable practices around processes that support MSK’s mission and provide the best cancer care to every person we treat.”

In 2019, MSK’s Greening the OR programs saved almost $‭‭1.1 million‬, diverted nearly 200 tons of waste, decreased energy use by 1.8M kWh, and reduced ‭greenhouse gas emissions from ORs by 1,800‬ mtco2e. 

Together, MSK’s Greening the OR committee and GreenReps have been able to take a comprehensive approach, rather than focusing on just one aspect of their sustainability work. Coordinating with purchasing staff to analyze and select products that reduce waste and chemicals, encouraging staff to efficiently use supplies and minimize expired/wasted inventory, working to enhance energy efficiency strategies through combined staff behavior changes and implementing engineering controls and efficient equipment, and focusing education for staff on the climate connections to human health and GHG impacts of anesthetic gases have all helped reduce the overall impact of MSK’s surgical department. 

MSK’s Greening the OR programs in 2019 included: 

  • An extensive surgical kit review project

  • Increasing the number of direct-to-drain fluid management systems to reduce waste

  • Working with a new reprocessing vendor to expand their device collection and purchasing program and develop an educational dashboard to track progress
  • Reviewing circular solutions for bluewrap by seeking vendors that collect sterile wrap and considering options to re-purposing it as bags for patient belongings
  • Continuing to focus on energy savings through HVAC setback and LED lighting as well as staff education
  • Focusing education for health care professionals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from anesthetic gases

Staff at the cancer center continue to mentor and learn from the Practice Greenhealth member community. 

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