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Nicole shares her passion for the environment and eliminating plastic pollution from healthcare.

Having been in healthcare for many years, my drive and inspiration is helping and caring for people.  For most of those years, the day after day of throwing away single-use plastics always bothered me. Like most nurses, and healthcare professionals, my priorities are aligned with the health, safety, outcomes, and care of patients, so only the best products – plastic or not, are a primary clinical consideration.

 

I often employ clinical decision-making to find solutions to problems. Clinical decision-making desperately needs to be implemented for a better outcome for our planet. If you metaphorically look at our planet Earth as a patient the solutions are simple: our planet is warming up, and the rate of temperature increase has nearly doubled in the last 50 years–the solution is to cool it down.  Our oceans are increasingly becoming more acidic secondary to carbon absorption, the solution is reducing our carbon footprint.  Cumulatively, stop doing the things that created the problem.  Collectively, we all need to do more and faster.  As a nurse, my wish is for the planet to return to homeostasis– look forward to an expanded metaphorical approach to climate change—Pt. Earth-911

An animal lover as well, it is heartbreaking to increasingly see the wildlife suffering, or worse dying. “We will not be able to recycle our way out of this crisis,” is a quote that punctuates the point of needing a new approach to reducing plastic waste.  Moreover, recycling will not reduce your carbon footprint.  The environmental impact of healthcare is significant, producing nearly 500 million tons of waste in the U.S. each year. The products we buy and the resulting waste impacts environments and communities.  In the course of 1 year, NewGen Surgical in collaboration with a large hospital system has been able to reduce 7.18 tons of plastic waste from the operating room by replacing one plastic medical device with a sustainable version.

I was fortunate to have crossed paths with NewGen Surgical, where I saw the opportunity to be part of helping change the use of single-use plastics in healthcare over to plant-based products that can have an impact. Since then, I have been inspired by courageous, environmental stewards who are paving the way to reducing the environmental impact of healthcare.  I encourage all of us in healthcare to do our collective part to minimize the environmental footprint of medical devices and surgical products.

Since joining the NewGen Surgical team a few months ago, I’ve acquired so much knowledge.    Starting with first with attending CleanMed in May, the premier national conference for leaders in healthcare sustainability.  I may sound a bit geeky, attending CleanMed for me was as enjoyable for me as Disneyland is for Disney fans.  The energy of being surrounded with likeminded healthcare professional on a mission to green healthcare was magical.

In June I attended Catholic Health Association Assembly (CHA)- an annual gathering for leaders of Catholic Healthcare in the United states.  CHA was perfectly timed, given Pope Francis stated in his encyclical “the urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.” A phenomenal experience to have the opportunity to introduce solutions to leaders with the power, passion and commitment to force change and ultimately strengthen our alliance.

At the Plastics Pollution Coalition luncheon, titled “Bioplastics: Do you wan to eat them?”  Ann Blake PhD, a consultant for NewGen Surgical emphasized the need for potentially regenerating product feedstock, as we only 60 harvest left in the world, a principle NewGen Surgical has pioneered and employed in the production of sustainable products. Dr. Martin Mulvihill, co-founder of mission driven capital fund investing in companies and technologies that reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals provided a powerful message “Keep Petroleum in the ground”!

Most recently, I attended Marin Sustainable Enterprise Conference where Rob Chase, President and Founder of NewGen Surgical where he was invited as a panel speaker discussing Circular and Recycling systems, providing solutions to move towards truly renewable circular system.  Considered a “local hero”, Rob showed how it possible to transform the way we do business and slow down the flow to landfill and reduce the harms of our throw-away culture as it applies to healthcare.

As the Clinical Integration Manager, I am responsible for leading new product introduction to O.R. clinical staff, providing continued clinical support, solutions and sustainability education. I provide on-site demonstrations, presentations to perioperative staff, in the OR and regularly meet with clinicians and sustainability professionals to lessen the environmental impact of healthcare.

Using my knowledge about healthcare in a new way – greening healthcare with sustainably designed products inspires me to connect with as many healthcare professionals as possible.  There is hope and solutions are available for a better future and a better world.   I look forward to collaboration and being a part of a growing sustainably minded community of healthcare professionals.