Caring for the community and for the environment: GenesisCare launches action plan for environmentally sustainable cancer care

Shepparton, Victoria – To coincide with this year’s Clean Up Australia Day, local oncology provider GenesisCare has today announced a new action plan to encourage the use of recycling and other waste management schemes at its Shepparton radiation oncology centre.

Clean Up Australia Day is a day of environmental action that takes place on the first Sunday in March every year. It encourages Australian citizens to clean up, fix up and conserve their communities to benefit the environment.

According to the World Health Organisation, of the total amount of waste generated by health-care activities, 15 per cent is considered hazardous material that may be infectious, toxic or radioactive. Every year an estimated 16 billion injections are administered worldwide, but not all of the needles and syringes are properly disposed of afterwards.1

Radiation Therapist and Local Quality Lead at GenesisCare, Erin Johnson, has led the introduction of a a new sustainability program to reduce medical related waste and increase recycling at the centre.

“Our team here in Shepparton does such an incredible job of caring for our patients and now we are going that one step further and looking at ways that we can care for the environment at the same time.”

“By thinking and action green, our team is aiming to develop a more sustainable healthcare environment,” said Ms Johnson.

GenesisCare has partnered with Greater Shepparton City Council to raise awareness and educate staff about recycling and waste management.

Waste Education Officer Hilary Grigg, who is today holding a sustainability education session with the GenesisCare team, said: “Small steps and changes have the ability to make such a big difference. It is fantastic that GenesisCare, who do such an incredible job of caring for cancer patients, are being proactive and looking at new and innovative ways to reduce their waste and minimise the environmental impacts of their day-to-day operations.”

GenesisCare’s ‘Think And Acting Green’ quality improvement action plan includes:

  • Proper disposal of recyclable medical related waste
  • Finding a green alternative to the plastic bags used for pillowcases for breast cancer patients
  • Correct disposable of ancillary equipment, including masks, as well as correct disposal of electrical waste
  • Correct disposal of good waste in the tearoom & introduction of waste disposal bins
  • Ongoing staff education, in collaboration with the Shepparton Council

GenesisCare Centre Leader, Dee Hepyukselen, said the local team have also been getting the patients involved in the celebrations in the lead up to Clean Up Australia Day.

“We’ve been gifting all of our patients with keep cups this week and have lots of posters and information around the centre and in the waiting room and we’ve had some really great meaningful discussions with our patients.”

“On Saturday the whole team will be heading out to clean up rubbish and some of our patients and their families will be joining us which is fantastic,” said Ms Hepyukselen.

Greater Shepparton City Council is running several community events in the lead up to and on Clean Up Australia Day. On Sunday the 6th of March the Council will host a outdoor event at Kalinga Park for the community to pick up litter and enjoy a complimentary BBQ lunch.

References:

  1. World Health Organisation 2022, Fact sheets: Health care waste, accessed February 2022, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/health-care-waste

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