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Healing Patients and the Planet

Sustainability is Good Practice Medically and Environmentally

At Stony Brook Medicine, environmental sustainability practices protect the natural environment while keeping patients safe and comfortable.

Earlier this year, Stony Brook University Hospital made the switch from plastic wash basins used to bathe patients, to kits of pre-packaged cloth towels called Readybath. It’s estimated that the Readybath kits will eliminate the use of 94,313 basins each year.

Seventy-five percent of the hospital’s patients are unable to – or have been advised not to – get out of bed to wash up. This may be because they are at risk of falling, or are on bed rest, or because their post-procedure recovery requires that they lie flat. Previously these patients would be washed with soap, water and a plastic wash basin.

That scenario isn’t kind to the environment. Plastic wash basins end up in landfills, where they stay forever. Hospitals are already the most water-intensive facilities in the country, representing seven percent of all commercial and institutional use, so using water to bathe patients adds to the water consumption dilemma. Bars of soap must be discarded after each use.

The Readybath product uses biodegradable towels. They’re proving to be popular with patients, who appreciate that the thick, soft cloths are kept in a warmer before use. The towels are pre-moistened, another environmental plus that eliminates plastic lotion bottles previously used as part of a patient’s bath.

The basins-to-Readybath transition falls under three of Stony Brook Medicine’s Sustainability Program initiatives – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Less Waste and Water Conservation.

Learn more about Sustainability and Stony Brook Medicine’s Sustainability Program.