Camden hospital transforming surgical trash to help the homeless

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Camden hospital transforming surgical trash to help the homeless: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on November 29, 2018.

Surgical trash is now turning into help for the homeless at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden.

Operating room staffers are doing it with their creativity, some basic sewing skills, and a passion to save waste and do good.

The blue plastic wraps are an OR essential, covering surgical instruments being sterilized. Fifty to 150 wraps get used a day and then tossed in the trash.

"If they were to be recycled, the hospital would have to pay to have them hauled away, shredded, and then recycled. And it's very expensive," said surgical technician, Dana Scarangelli.

Scarangelli got an idea from a California hospital: Turn them into sleeping mats for the homeless. They're waterproof, retain some heat, and are durable.

When other OR staffers saw her mat, they offered to make some.

"It probably takes about 15 to 20 minutes to make," said Scarangelli.

"You don't have to be a good sewer, just sew in a straight line," added Laura Faust, C.R.N.A.

In 6 months, the OR Green Team has made more than 150 mats. They've gone to homeless on the streets on both sides of the Delaware River.

Faust donated 50 to a friend, who is the police chief in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

"Such a nice way for them to bridge the communication between the police officers and the homeless people," she said.

Faust also invented a sleeping bag version.

OR Nurse Ian Menewisch created a tote bag - and "plarn," a plastic yarn for making other items.

"I shredded up one of the bigger ones and just started knitting with it," he said.

The Green Team now has offers from people outside the hospital to help them sew the mats together. They're ready - they've got thousands of wraps available - no longer destined for the trash.

For more information or to help with the project, contact Laura Faust at: laurafaust@verizon.net

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