Our network

Mercy Health System turns medical "trash" into treasure | Community Spirit

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Mercy Health System turns medical "trash" into treasure
Mercy Health System turns medical "trash" into treasure

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – If you think it’s tough cleaning out your garage, imagine trying to get rid of outdated medical supplies, obsolete equipment and slightly damaged surgical goods. It’s not an easy task but the Sisters of Mercy Health System is committed to keeping these items out of the landfill and getting them into the hands of people who need them.

“Co-workers really made this happen,” said Julie Jones, Mercy’s executive director of mission and ministry. “Out of their desire to help others and reduce waste, a number of people began investigating what Mercy could do with extra resources.”

ROi, Mercy’s supply chain division, spent two years looking for an outlet for supplies and equipment that could not be resold or repurposed. Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach fit the bill with a worldwide distribution network.

“They have a team of volunteers that sorts all the donations into usable and unusable. They even have vendors who will refurbish equipment that doesn’t work,” says Greg Goddard, Mercy’s ROi director of operation logistics. “What’s still not usable is disposed of in an ecologically responsible manner and the rest is organized into categories and donated to medical missions around the world.”

Each month, Mercy trucks about four pallets of supplies – worth an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 – to the Mission Outreach warehouse in Springfield, Ill.  In the last year, Mercy has donated 44,000 pounds of goods. The items come from any of Mercy’s 28 hospitals and 200 outpatient facilities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma with the bulk from surgery, lab and nursing units. They include things like stainless steel tools, suture kits, syringes and gauze. Mercy also gathers up durable equipment, such as outdated metal cribs and incubators, which were once gathering dust in storage but have since been refurbished and found a second life in the mission field.

“This program ensures that usable resources are not wasted, but rather continue to serve patients in places where needs are great and supplies are not readily available,” Jones said. “It also shows compassion for the limited resources of the earth. By keeping all of this out of landfills, Mercy reduces waste and is environmentally responsible.”

This unique “recycling” program is making a difference around the world. So far, Mercy donations have made their way to places like Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras and Macedonia.