State of California Endorses Reprocessing

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The California Department of Health Services (DHS) has recommended Vanguard Medical Concepts' comprehensive medical device reprocessing program as a way for hospitals to reduce the flow of medical waste into landfills. It is one of six recommendations for reducing medical waste outlined in a guidance document released in March by the agency's Environmental Management Branch Chief Jack McGurk.

An estimated 50,000 tons of medical waste are generated annually in California. The DHS document outlines six medical waste reduction strategies hospitals in the state can implement to protect the community, improve the environment and produce substantial operational cost savings. They are:

1. Eliminate solid wastes from the medical waste stream

2. Use lighter weight, high-density Bio-Elite red bags for medical waste storage

3. Implement a blue wrap recycling program

4. Install re-usable sharps containers

5. Use sharps containers manufactured with recycled plastic

6. Recycle single use medical devices

The completed guidance document is posted on the agency's Web site at: www.dhs.ca.gov/medicalwaste.

The guidance document focuses on a new program Vanguard is implementing in California hospitals. It uses 17-gallon recycling containers to collect used surgical devices for reprocessing. As part of the program, Vanguard documents and reports data to participating hospitals about the weight of devices diverted from their medical waste streams. The document also notes that Vanguard is FDA-approved and its containers meet federal Department of Transportation standards.

"For more than a decade, our mission has been to deliver quality healthcare products and services in an environmentally responsible manner," said Vanguard President and CEO Charles Masek. "Reducing medical waste and achieving cost savings from recycling and reuse are the cornerstones of medical device reprocessing." More than 130 California hospitals outsource their medical device reprocessing to Vanguard.

Vanguard is a champion of the national Hospitals for a Healthy Environment initiative and works actively to assist healthcare facilities in reducing medical waste and toxins from the environment. In 2003, Vanguard eliminated 439 tons of medical waste through its reprocessing programs at more than 900 hospitals nationwide.

Vanguard Medical Concepts Inc. is the nation's largest medical device reprocessor, serving more than 1,000 healthcare facilities nationwide. Since 1991, Vanguard has reprocessed more than 13 million devices. As a supporter of the national Hospitals for a Healthy Environment initiative, Vanguard now offers two new customer programs -- Vanguard Advantage and Rapid Return -- that combine maximum savings with environmental stewardship. Vanguard operates a quality management system that complies with the requirements of ISO 13485: 1996 for reprocessing medical devices for health care facilities.

Source: Vanguard Medical Concepts

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