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Fraser Health Recycling Champion: Lorie Marchinkow

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Image: Lorie Marchinkow (left) and Meghan Tarlier (right)

Green Champion: Lorie Marchinkow
Health authority: Fraser Health
Facility: Abbotsford Regional Hospital & Cancer Centre
Position: Supervisor for X-Ray/Interventional Radiology
Date interviewed: June 13, 2017

Lorie is one of the Recycling Champions in the Medical Imaging Department at Abbotsford Regional Hospital & Cancer Center. We chatted about the environmental impact of Interventional Radiology (IR) and how the department is doing its part to recycle and reduce waste.

What inspired you to support green initiatives in Interventional Radiology (IR)?

“My past experiences. I grew up with recycling and do so at home. It’s only natural to continue this practice at work, even though it’s a bit more challenging to do so. I was also doing it at Vancouver General Hospital prior to moving to Abbotsford General Hospital. No inspiration really; I believe it’s something we should inherently be doing. It should come automatically. I’ve also been to countries like China, Singapore, Middle East and India where they have real waste problems due to their enormous populations. Maybe in Canada we don’t feel such urgency because we’re a big country. But other countries, where space and population are an issue, have to figure out where they’re going to put their waste. We’re helping the environment when we don’t have to build another landfill to accommodate our waste.”

How do staff in IR support each other to reduce waste?

“We make sure the bins are available and conveniently placed. For example, when we set up sterile trays, we use several different supplies, all of which come in individual packaging. We place recycling and garbage bins conveniently so that we can recycle hard plastic and paper packaging easily. It’s also important to keep the recycling bins and all equipment and supplies organized. Clutter tends to create chaos. When everything is clean and in its place, it generates calmness amongst staff which is then felt by the patient.”

What is the biggest challenge for recycling and waste reduction in IR?  

“Making sure waste goes into the correct bin. In our department we have doctors, technologists, nurses, patients and family members. It can be difficult to educate so many different people. Also, contaminating otherwise clean recyclable items with dirty/contaminated gloves can be a problem for us because of the nature of our procedures. It’s hard not to feel bad about not being able to recycle something that we could have made the extra effort to keep clean. Another challenge we have is that every product we use in patient care is individually packaged for safety. So naturally, we generate more waste. And unfortunately, we can’t just bulk these products together because of the potential for cross-contamination. This means packaging waste is huge.”

What advice would you give to other departments interested in reducing their environmental footprint?

“Recycle and repurpose what you can and where it is safe to do so. Since we have so many products in individual sterile packaging that doesn’t biodegrade, it’s good to be mindful about the impact of landfills on the environment, and maximize what we can recycle. Be diligent and have a champion to ‘gently’ introduce the benefits of recycling in your area. Once you get buy-in from others, it will become the norm to recycle within your department.”