NMSU continues to help hospitals help themselves

By Jane Moorman

FARMINGTON – Staff from New Mexico State University’s Institute for Energy and the Environment recently continued statewide training on pollution prevention in the healthcare industry.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE), through the College of Engineering, includes WERC: A Consortium for Environment and Education Development, the Southwest Technology Development Institute, and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center.

IEE program manager Chris Campbell teamed with the New Mexico Environment Department to present a full-day workshop on the reduction of medical waste at the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington.

Campbell helped to conduct a preliminary waste audit at the medical center to identify areas of operation where waste could be reduced or recycled.

“An afternoon training session focused on helping healthcare facilities better manage their waste by improving segregation of solid waste and regulated medical waste, initiating internal recycling programs, reducing the amount of packaging being brought into the hospitals and, generally, helping to reduce costs by reducing their environmental footprint,” Campbell said. The workshop was attended by 13 hospital managers and directors, and a representative from the Indian Health Service.

This training is provided by IEE in collaboration with the New Mexico Environment Department, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Hospital and Healthcare Systems Association. It has been conducted by NMSU at hospitals in Albuquerque, Taos, Raton and Las Cruces.

San Juan Regional Medical Center has recently become a member of Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E), a non-profit organization that provides the healthcare industry with resources to reduce hazardous and other medical waste.

H2E and IEE are particularly interested in entirely removing mercury from the healthcare environment due to its known toxic effects.

“San Juan Regional Medical Center, for example, has removed all mercury thermometers and other mercury-containing instruments from its facilities, as have most hospitals in New Mexico due, in part, to this type of training and outreach,” Campbell said.

For more information on healthcare pollution prevention, contact Campbell at chriscam@nmsu.edu or (505) 843-4251 at IEE/WERC, NMSU College of Engineering.

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