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A greener OR

Rafael Andrade, M.D.

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword for Rafael Andrade, M.D.

A resident alumnus of the Class of 2000 and an assistant professor in the Medical School’s Department of Surgery, Andrade is leading a waste-reduction initiative in the operating rooms at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview’s East and West Bank campuses.

So far, it’s working wonders. Overall waste disposal from the medical center’s ORs has been reduced by an astounding 1,000 pounds per day, Andrade says. Combined with other “green” efforts across the system, such as recycling programs and improved energy efficiency, this work has saved Fairview more than $874,000.

Andrade and his team have reduced the number of disposable items in the operating room, made a push toward recycling everything possible, and eliminated unnecessary items from surgical toolkits (or “picks”) for routine procedures.

For example, they reduced from 44 to 27 the number of pieces in the pick for a vascular access port placement, a procedure University surgeons perform more than 200 times each year. The pick now includes reusable gowns and linens and fewer disposable items. These changes alone eliminated a pound of waste and saved $50 in supply costs per procedure.

“These small initial steps have already had a significant positive environmental and financial impact,” says Andrade, who claims he’s just getting started.

That should create some buzz.

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