UHN is a big place. Scratch that…UHN is a very big place. So big that last time I bothered to count, which was back before Toronto Rehab was welcomed to the family, I estimated that we used around 80 million “things” a year. So…combine a very big place with a lot of things being used, and it’s quite likely that at some point, somebody is going to be getting rid of the exact same thing that somebody else is looking for.
Fortunately, since 2008 UHN has had its Virtual Swap Room, an on-line message board where somebodies looking for things can connect with other somebodies looking to get rid of still good things…think of it as Kijiji-lite for UHN.
And just like Kijiji, there are deals to be had. Take for example, Tracy and Sara at the Toronto Western Hospital. Tracy had some no longer needed chairs around the same time that Sara was looking for some new meeting room chairs. One posting on the Virtual Swap room and a couple of emails later and next thing you know, Sara has Tracy’s chairs, saving UHN what Sara would have had to spend buying new chairs and what UHN would have had to spend throwing out Tracy’s chairs, and keeping those chairs out of the dump.
Or take Linda at TGH who found herself in possession of a number of barely used and super clean Styrofoam coolers destined for the dumpster (alas, Styrofoam is not recyclable at UHN). Instead of throwing them out, Linda has been giving them to staff who find them perfect for picnics, cold drinks and…worms.
So, UHN is always going to be big and use a lot of things, but thanks to the Virtual Swap Room and people like Tracy, Sara and Linda, some of those things will get a little re-use before going off for recycling or the dumpster.