Even the most routine patient visits produce medical waste. Gloves, needles for drawing blood or administering vaccines, bandages and swabs all need to be disposed of more carefully than regular trash. Typically, that waste is disposed of in a red hazmat bag in the room where the visit or procedure takes place. Then, it’s carried to a physical dump in the hospital, where it must be catalogued, treated on site, and sent to another facility for disposal.
Sterilis, a medical waste remediation company, aims to change that model. Sterilis is working to help clients dispose of medical waste onsite with machines that convert medical waste into “solid, sterile trash” according to their website.
“We started this five years ago on a napkin sketch,” said Bob Winskowicz, CEO of Sterilis.
Winskowicz saw an opportunity and started with the “point of generation” model for medical waste disposal because “we wanted to cut down on the amount of time medical waste was moved throughout the community.”
Recent years have seen an increase in ambulatory services in facilities that have limited waste disposal rooms. But as the clientele of those ambulatory services grows, that room doesn’t.
This led Winkowicz to create a machine that takes medical waste, sterilizes it using steam and grinds it into smaller pieces that are safe and decontaminated in 60 minutes. These pieces fall into a bag that meets sanitization standards and can be placed in a normal waste basket. And the machine is roughly the size of an office copying machine.
In addition, the machine is capable of emailing or texting an alert when the waste is sterilized. It also computes and records all of the data needed to meet government standards for waste disposal.
The machine is currently being used by Fenway Health, HIV clinics, and the VA. Winskowicz says these facilities bought Sterilis for the following reasons: “ease of use, to minimize the touch points from medical waste, to cost-effectively transform medical waste, and lastly is to improve their safety profile.”
Barbara Plansinis, administrator for Wentworth Surgery Center, said it’s changed how they process medical waste. According to Plansinis Wentworth is saving roughly $12,000 a year in costs for waste management.
Because the machines produce waste that could be recycled, Winskowicz is looking into using that recyclable material for the purposes of “circular economics, which is to use that product in another product so it has a second life.”
That potential for a second life for the waste has garnered awards. The company won “Top Product of the Year Award for Green Medical Waste Disposal Device” for 2017 by Environmental Leader. It was also named a top technology for a better future by MassTLC’s Tech Leadership Awards.
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