Greening the OR

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Meet Jaye Sutton, RN

When you walk into her office, you can immediately tell, Here is a manager who cares. Jaye Sutton, RN, Director of Surgical Services, may be on the phone, giving an insightful, genuine, “Hang in there, you-can- do- it” talk to a fellow nurse. Rows of binders containing plans for projects she oversees, or has overseen, neatly line an entire bookcase. The natural lighting and décor, coupled with a welcoming smile foster easy communication. But it’s her passion for saving energy, reducing waste, improving efficiency and lowering costs in her operating rooms that really makes Jaye light up.

Efficient Design and Waste Reduction

Jaye has been a nurse since 1982. She started her career in critical care and the OR, moving to the float pool when her family’s schedule required flexibility. She was eventually recruited to management at Suburban Hospital in Maryland. When she was tapped to establish an IVF program, then to develop an ambulatory clinic, Jaye discovered what she loves most as a manager: designing work spaces to be efficient, improving staff work flow, and reducing costs through energy and waste reduction.

Greening the OR

When Jaye was hired at INOVA Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, Virginia, as Director of Surgical Services, it was only natural for her to design and install the greenest, most efficient OR possible from the ground up.

  • She started by analyzing each “pick ticket” for OR cases, (items picked out to be placed at the ready for the surgical team).
    • Were items being opened that were never used?
    • Could the team use an item that was designated as multi-use, rather than going with disposable, single-use items?
    • Bit by bit, detail by detail, small changes started adding up to less waste, less cost.
  • The packaging of OR trays was next on Jaye’s list.
    • She searched and procured a vendor to recycle the large amounts of blue wrap produced by her busy ORs. (Blue wrap is the outer covering used when a surgical tray is sterilized.) They had been discarded in the trash, but soon the staff adjusted to easily accessible blue wrap recycling hampers lined with blue can liners.
    • Funds were allocated each year to procure washable Genesis pans to hold OR trays instead of blue wrap.
    • The storage area was redesigned for staff to ergonomically pull out the heavier Genesis pans when needed.

Jaye credits an AORN Journal article from December 2010 entitled, “Healthcare Waste Management and Environmentally Preferable Purchasing,” for creating that “aha” moment that led to her Going Green mindset. With corporate level support and timely information from groups such as HHI and Healthcare Without Harm, the INOVA Loudoun Hospital...

  • Operating rooms were outfitted with water and energy saving sterile processors.
  • Cost analysis of faster cycle time and energy savings proved favorable for justifying the capital expenditure.
  • As old equipment was replaced, Jaye located a vendor to re purpose or re-home the machinery.
  • Hospitals and clinics, in places such as the Ambulatory Surgery clinic in Haiti aided by INOVA, welcome used, but serviceable, equipment.

Looking back over the advances she has made in Greening her OR’s, Jaye seems pleased, but doesn’t really want to linger. She is ready to tackle the future, “Hey, is anyone talking about solar?”

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