Work Life

Team Members Reduce Waste, Care for the Environment Through Supply Recycling Program

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Where It All Starts

Syringes. Band aids. Surgical kits. Gloves. These are a few of the essential health care supplies you will find in patient rooms across AdventHealth. Graycen Holmes, a registered nurse at AdventHealth Orlando, is one of many caregivers who ensures these items are available as they deliver whole-person care.

While restocking a new patient’s room, she sometimes finds unopened packs of items that could be reused, except for the risk of possible contamination. If thrown in the trash, Holmes knows they could end up in landfills, so she places them in designated recycling bins.

“We used to discard the leftovers,” said Holmes, who works in the facility’s advanced cardiac surgical unit. “Now, we have the bins, and I love to educate others about our supply recycling program.”

Graycen Holmes in front of supply recycling bins
Graycen Holmes, registered nurse at AdventHealth Orlando, regularly recycles unused supplies.
image of care items in server, where unused items are waiting to be recycled
Care items are kept in servers; the unused items are picked up and placed in recycling bins.

Holmes said her inspiration comes from a desire to make her community sustainable. Alongside her father, she volunteers with local organizations to nurture gardens where fruits, vegetables and flowers can be harvested for free and grown by local residents.

“These initiatives excite me,” said Holmes. “Whole-person care is also about our environmental impact, which affects the health of our patients.”

Cassandra Joseph, an assistant nurse manager at AdventHealth Orlando, said, "I love using the bins. Right from the start, I thought this program was great.”

Cassandra Joseph, assistant nurse manager at AdventHealth Orlando holding recycled supplies
Cassandra Joseph, assistant nurse manager at AdventHealth Orlando, contributes to the program for the benefit of communities.

Where It Goes

Recycled items are sent to the facility’s cleaning chamber where Peter McGarry and Giovanni Gonzalez serve as resource management logistics coordinators. Through a week-long rigorous process, they sort, load and cleanse the unopened supplies. Though they are new to their roles, McGarry and Gonzalez said they are excited about the opportunity to drive positive social change.

“Being involved in the solution motivates me,” said McGarry. “I have tremendous pride and satisfaction knowing that what we do reduces AdventHealth’s carbon footprint.”

“My role is inspiring,” said Gonzalez. "I get to be a part of history in the making, and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.”

Peter McGarry getting items ready for processing at the chamber.
Peter McGarry getting items ready for processing at the chamber.

Where It Lands

The final stop for the recycled items is back at the units where they were first collected – with the intention of reuse. Some of the items are allocated for training demonstrations and simulation labs led by educators like Lauren Fiorello and Jodi Laney, senior nurse managers of clinical education, and Sara Birney and Julie Long, neonatal and pediatric educators, to deliver learning experiences that align to real-life scenarios for caregivers.

Long believes her role challenges her to be a lifelong learner. “I get to tap into my work and life experiences to create innovative learning for our nurses, and help them realize their potential by handing them the tools and resources they need to extend our mission,” she said.

Several countries around the world also benefit from receiving a portion of these recycled supplies, thanks to the AdventHealth Global Missions program.

“Being able to donate these items comes naturally as a part of our organization’s value of stewardship,” said Monty Jacobs, director of AdventHealth Global Missions. “In 2022 alone, the team made 70 shipments to 23 countries, which have helped international organizations to reduce cost and provide care more affordably to those in need.”

A care team running a simulation with a mannequin on a stretcher
The items come in handy during training demonstrations and simulation labs, which help care teams to prepare for real-world scenarios

With over 1 million items recycled — equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars saved — Ben Dale, director of operational excellence at AdventHealth Orlando, said “the ultimate goal is to keep [the items] out of landfills. If anyone can use them, we count that as a win.”

It’s a cycle that comes full circle for team members at AdventHealth Orlando — and one that Jonathan Looke, executive director of supply chain system support services, is proud to have spearheaded, along with Dale.

“We have a beautiful planet, and I love to explore nature for hiking and skiing,” said Looke. “I want those opportunities of connecting with nature to always be there, for my kids and for generations to come.”

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