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Hospital Pathology Labs Step Up Recycling Efforts

pathology recycling

When Upstate University Hospital employee Mickey Muscolino heard about the push to increase recycling in the hospital, he decided to do his part.

And then some.

Muscolino, an Assistant Supervisor in Cytogenetics, contacted Jason Rupert, Assistant Director in Environmental Services to request an extra 15 recycling bins. They're now in use in the Clinical Pathology lab on the hospital's third floor and the Anatomical Pathology lab on the sixth floor.

More than 200 people are employed in those areas, so even a small gain in how much is recycled instead of tossed out will make a substantial difference, Muscolino said.

"In with the green, out with the red," he said, referring to the color of the trash bags used in the hospital. Green is symbolic not only of recycling and the environment, but also dollars. Rupert said recycling efforts saved the hospital more than $450,000 in the last year alone.

The additional bins and educational efforts in the two pathology labs are only a couple of months old, so it's too soon to measure any progress. But according to the cleaners who work in this area, the amount of recycled material removed weekly has doubled or tripled.

Recycling Benefits Habitat for Humanity

recycling paint

Thinking about painting the inside of your home? Why not do it in the vibrant colors of the Upstate Golisano Childrens Hospital.

Upstate Medical University has donated approximately 120 gallons of paint in such colors as Austin Orchid, Friendly Yellow, Rosy Apple and Buttermintto Habitat for Humanity. The paint was all that was left over from the original construction project.

Habitat will sell the paint at its ReStore, located at 308 Otisco Street in Syracuse with all proceeds going to benefit the non-profit agency that helps families find affordable housing.

"We're grateful to Upstate for thinking of us for this donation," said the Rev. Gregory Wright of Habitat for Humanity. "This paint will be put to good use by our ReStore customers and in turn benefit Habitat's overall mission."

"We're delighted to support Habitat for Humanity with its important mission," said Gary Kittell, Assistant Vice President, Physical Plant Services.

The idea and arrangements behind the paint donation came from Physical Plant employees Scott Warren, Ted Spadotto and Frank Chiarilli

Coronary Care Unit

8e nurse recycling.

Despite the signs to the contrary posted throughout the coronary care unit in Upstate University Hospital, staff members believe it's "easy to be green."

Nurses on the unit (8E) have been encouraging greater vigilance in the recycling of paper, cardboard and plastic, and they have set up a centralized location to make recycling yes, easy.

"I think we're making some headway here," said Alicia Taylor RN, as she surveyed the array of containers in the unit's recycling room. "If the containers are there, people will try to cooperate. The use of the containers is increasing."

The push for enhanced recycling emerged from a recent meeting of the nurses' Shared Governance collaborative decision-making group. Taylor thought 8E could set an example for the rest of the hospital. "We should be held to a higher standard," she said.

Taylor contacted the Environmental Services and Food & Nutrition Services departments, and talked with staff on the unit to make sure everyone was on board. Then the signs went up "Remember to Recycle" and "It's Not Easy Being Green."

Taylor said the high volume of recyclable products on the unit everything from paper and plastic containers to milk and juice cartons for patients means that every little bit helps.

"We recycle over 1 million pounds of materials at Upstate annually," said Robert Andrus of Environmental Health and Safety. "The initiative and self-motivation of Alicia Taylor and the staff on 8E speaks to what is best about Upstate. The key to success in advancing our recycling programs starts with one individual and creates momentum that will continue to spread throughout the institution."

Receiving Department

recycling used cartridges.

Willie White, Steve Egan and the rest of the Receiving Department in the Campus West Building have plenty of work to do as it is. But if additional work comes in the form of more recyclable inkjet and laser cartridges, cell phones and PDAs, they are fine with that.

The used items, which come from departments throughout the campus, are recycled and redeemed for cash that goes to Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

The program could bring in $20,000 a year for special programming and amenities for children being cared for at the hospital, which opened September 2009.

White and Egan say not everyone has gotten the word about the program. "I still see boxes left out for the UPS truck to pick up and take back to the manufacturer", said White, receiving manager.

They're hoping more Upstate employees catch on and designate their recycled cartridges for Golisano Children's Hospital. (See recycling instructions for Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital)

White and his Receiving staff pack the recyclables on pallets for delivery to Walmart in Camillus, where they are sorted and sent to a reclamation service. A recent collection of about 1,300 cartridges totaled nearly $1,500. Prices fluctuate depending on the market.

"This program is the best of both worlds we're keeping material out of the landfill and at the same time, benefiting our youngest patients," said Cassandra Rucker of the Upstate Medical University Foundation.

Clark Tower

Clark Tower students recycling.

Recycling is second nature to SUNY Upstate students who live in Clark Tower.

The residence hall has had a recycling program for about six years, said Assistant Director of College Housing Sharon Huard.

The 170 or so students who live there collect bottles and cans, paper, cardboard, batteries and ink jet cartridges for recycling, rather than just tossing them away.

"Clark Tower is doing our part to protect the environment by recycling," said Chanel Thompson, College of Medicine Class of 2011 and the residence hall's recycling coordinator. "(Office manager) Marlene Slade and Sharon Huard have gotten us nice recycling bins and made signs, to ensure that all student can do their part."

Christopher Nerantzinis, College of Medicine Class of 2011, said recycling ties into the mission of an academic medical university.

"I guess the idea is that a healthy environment is an important part of creating a healthy people," he said. "The second part is why we're here (as medical students), but we can't ignore the first part, either."

There's also another reason Clark Tower residents like to recycle, according to Huard proceeds from bottle and can deposits help fill the candy bowl in the residence hall office.

"It is well known that Marlene has the best candy bowl ever!" Huard said.

Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology Department members who have gone green with coffee mugs.

Coffee lovers in the Department of Radiation Oncology in University Hospital have gone green.

The 35-member department has done away with disposable polystyrene cups, and has switched to real mugs. The savings? Almost $400 a year.

The 35-member department has done away with disposable polystyrene cups, and has switched to real mugs. The savings? Almost $400 a year.

"It's a win-win," said Loretta Grihin, office manager for the department. "We're saving money and helping the environment. Everyone agreed to bring in extra mugs from home, so there was no expense involved."

Grihin said the department used to order about two cases of disposable cups a month, at more than $16 a case.

Not everyone in the department drinks coffee, but Grihin said there are also tea and hot chocolate drinkers. All are on board with the mug policy.

Grihin pitched the switch to Radiation Oncology administrators, who approved. The mug policy went into effect on – appropriately enough – Earth Day.

Property Management

Paul Hrybinczak of SUNY Upstate's Property Management department

'I hate throwing anything out.'

This is recycling on a grand scale, and it's all SUNY Upstate stuff.

Paul Hrybinczak of SUNY Upstate's Property Management department presides over a 10,000 square foot warehouse filled with recycled and recyclable office equipment, furniture and electronic components.

Upstate employees can obtain used items for their work areas by making a request through their department. They also can visit the Ainsley Drive warehouse Fridays from 9 am to noon to inspect items. No appointment is needed.

"There's always a constant flow of materials," Hrybinczak said. "We try to reuse as much as possible."

The steady supply results in large part from renovations to Upstate offices and clinical areas, when old furniture and equipment need to be removed. Hrybinczak or one of his two staffers, Maryann Garbooshian and Rod Carter, determine if items are candidates for the surplus warehouse.

Some items they accept are ready for immediate reuse or may need some repairs; other items are sent to recycling centers or transfer stations. Upstate employees have first crack at the warehouse items, but if there are no takers, they're made available first to other SUNY institutions, then to state agencies and local municipalities. If they're still unwanted, items go to the state Office of General Services, which tries to sell them on eBay.

Hrybinczak urges employees to check out his inventory – which includes hundreds of desks, chairs, tables, lockers and filing cabinets, among other goods – before ordering new.

"We all know that someone's junk is someone else's treasure," he said. "They put the right guy in charge out here. I hate throwing anything out."