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TOH saves thousands of dollars by reducing wasted supplies

Housekeeping Attendant Derrick Hamilton

Housekeeping Attendant Derrick Hamilton was one of many housekeepers who sparked the wasted-supplies campaign when they raised concerns about having to throw out so many supplies left behind in patient rooms.

Patients sometimes see extra bandages, medical tape, Kleenex boxes and all sorts of other medical supplies piled onto their windowsills and tray tables.


The hospital cannot reuse these supplies once they’ve entered a patient’s room, and wasted supplies at the Civic and General campuses reached the shocking estimated value of $500,000 last year.


It was time for a change.


Since February 2014, four audits, collaborative efforts and awareness-raising have significantly reduced wasted supplies. One day’s worth of collected supplies (that were left behind in discharged patients’ rooms) went from $1,274 to $150 – a drastic improvement that is saving TOH an estimated $353,000 a year.

Wasted supplies table

Wasted supplies collected during the fourth audit at the Civic Campus have been significantly reduced in value and number since last year.


“It was easy to do – everybody wants to do the right thing,” said Sue Batista, Director of Care Environment. An awareness campaign made a quick and powerful impact with clinical managers, the Corporate Nursing Clinical Practice Committee and Housekeeping staff.


“After the patient is discharged, everything left in the patient room has to go in the garbage,” said Housekeeping Attendant Derrick Hamilton, who helped collect wasted supplies during the audits.


When staff members take only the supplies that are needed into patient rooms, major savings are achieved. One of the biggest changes was getting rid of basin bundles, which commonly included Kleenex boxes, combs, toothbrushes, mouthwash and hand lotion, because many patients did not need them.


“It’s important to realize that we’ll never be at zero dollars of waste,” said Batista. “We’ll always need supplies for emergencies.” However, waste has been significantly reduced with emergency supplies as well. For example, tracheal tubes are now conserved in sealed containers that can be cleaned and returned to circulation if they haven’t been opened.

Tracheal tubes

Housekeeping Supervisor Mike Sheremet lets managers know when supplies are being wasted. The wrapped tracheal tubes, for example, cannot be re-used because they could have been contaminated through tiny holes in the wrapper.


“By working together, staff has saved a significant portion of what could have been up to $500,000 in wasted supplies.”


Building on its impressive success, the Housekeeping Department is looking for other ways to save hospital dollars. In a “Lights Out” project at the Riverside Campus, Housekeeping members turned off lights that weren’t being used and saved $450 per month. The same campaign will launch this month at the General and Civic campuses.


“It really adds up and makes a big difference,” said Batista. “We can reinvest the money we save back into the hospital and continue to provide excellent patient care.”


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