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Service Impact Award Winner: Coulee Region RSVP

by Greg Tucker

Over the next several weeks, we will be profiling the winners of the 2012 Service Impact Awards. Look for their stories and videos here on the blog.

The Coulee Region RSVP in La Crosse, Wisconsin, collaborates with Gundersen Lutheran Health System's environmental stewardship program to mitigate some of the waste that was being sent to the county's landfill and reuse the material to help others in the hospital.

Every day, a material known as “blue wrap” is used at Gundersen Lutheran's facilities to wrap surgical instrument trays for the operating rooms. Following the sterilization of the trays, they are unwrapped and the blue wrap is thrown away. This material, which, is responsible for 19 percent of the waste generated from surgical services nationwide, can only be used once before it is discarded.

Thanks to the Coulee Region RSVP, surgical wrap that once would have made its way to the landfill is being repurposed and used as aprons for adult and pediatric oncology patients as they participate in healing arts activities, as bedrail bags for patients during long-term stays, as tote bags for educational materials, as wheelchair/walker bags for rehab and therapy patients, as personal item caddies, and as breast cancer patient care bags.

Since the program's inception in August 2011, 20 volunteers have saved more than 575 pounds of material from the local landfill by creating 932 items currently being used at Gundersen Lutheran.

Coulee Region RSVP was selected as the winner in the Environmental Stewardship category in the 2012 National Service Impact Awards.

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