By Meghan Kerr and Nicole Green, UofT MD Class of 2021 and current Operation Green volunteers
Over the 2018-2019 school year we have had the privilege of actively tackling hospital waste reduction as coordinators of the Operation Green program across the University Health Network. This role has been challenging, rewarding, and elucidating as we coordinated a UHN-wide program, met health care workers committed to sustainable healthcare, and physically lugged boxes and bags of unused medical equipment across hospital floors to pass on to Not Just Tourists for redistribution to areas of need.
The “Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals” developed by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and released this April states “support for HCF sustainability initiatives can be located at many levels, including a facility-led green committee, the regional health system, provincial/territorial government departments or programs, national-level frameworks, and international agencies.” This “think global, act local” philosophy galvanized our efforts to extend the Operation Green program throughout the UHN under the guidance of Energy Steward, Lisa Vanlint. Any donation, no matter how small, makes a difference, and we were amazed by the growing membership and commitment to the program over the year as well as the volume of unused medical equipment that passed through our hands.
During our time as Operation Green Coordinators, we are proud to have increased donation pickup frequency to once per month, to have collaborated with volunteer resources at hospital sites to recruit additional volunteers, and to have collaborated with UHN Transport Services in order to transport greater volumes of medical supplies. We also extended our pickup sites from Toronto General and Toronto Western to include Princess Margaret and Mount Sinai Hospital. It has been a privilege to have seen Operation Green grow and do our part, no matter how small, in committing to a greener future for health care.
If you are interested in donating medical supplies please email OperationGreen@uhn.ca
If you are interested in doing your part to promote sustainability in your clinic setting, here is a Green Office Toolkit
We would like to thank our volunteers Richard, David and Providence for giving their time to the program, volunteer services at TGH for their collaboration, our local donors for their commitment to waste reduction, the UHN movers for helping our program grow, Lisa for her ongoing support, and the Not Just Tourists team for the great work they do.