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A River Runs Through It

Ridge Meadow Hospital

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Ridge Meadows Hospital has a plan to keep pollution out of local waterways

Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge is situated just minutes away from the region’s most crucial waterway, the Fraser River. The river’s ecosystem also sustains diverse wildlife and is a source of freshwater for drinking, agriculture, and local industry. If the nearby hospital’s pollutants are not properly managed, it can harm public health and damage the local environment.

To reduce harmful substances from going into the local water systems, Metro Vancouver introduced the Hospital Pollution Prevention Bylaw in 2018. Hospital operations generate various pollutants on a daily basis, from drug waste to biomedical waste to kitchen grease. When not managed or treated properly, there can be risks to the wastewater system and water quality.

Ridge Meadows was one of the hospitals required to have a pollution prevention plan by 2020 to comply with the Metro Vancouver bylaw.

When the first five-year plan was submitted and approved, numerous teams throughout the hospital were mobilized to revamp processes and infrastructure according to its new wastewater pollution prevention plan. Nurses, food service personnel, facilities management and operations, and pharmacy staff were among those involved. New policies and procedures were implemented, countless staff received training and equipment was upgraded.

For instance, grease traps were installed in food services facilities to reduce the entry of oils, fats and grease into the wastewater system. As well, the plan stopped the practice of emptying excess IV bag contents in the sink and trained staff on safe disposal of drugs and pharmaceutical products.

Over the span of four years, departments united around the goal of adhering to the regional bylaw, ensuring its operations comply — and sometimes exceed — environmental standards. Along the way, staff became more sustainability-minded.

The staff at Ridge Meadows Hospital take pride in both caring for their patients and safeguarding the environment. As of January 2024, the hospital is in full compliance with the bylaw, and they are working on updating their pollution prevention plan for the upcoming five years.

Regional Energy Coordinator Maleeka Aamer, tasked with coordinating annual reports, underscores the collaborative spirit that underpins the hospital’s environmental efforts.

It’s been a collective endeavour,” she notes. “Every department involved has contributed significantly to our mission of protecting the water system.”

Wastewater management can be a gritty side of upholding planetary health. However, the diligent and essential efforts of the Ridge Meadows Hospital staff on this front ensure the protection of waterways in the Metro Vancouver region and the life they sustain.