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Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center recognized for environmental sustainability by HealthTrust

August 5, 2020

SUMMIT, NJ – AUGUST 5, 2020 – Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center has again been recognized for its accomplishments in environmental sustainability with the 2020 Member Recognition Award from HealthTrust, a purchasing and performance improvement organization that serves hospitals, health systems and other health care provider locations.

Overlook received HealthTrust’s award for Social Stewardship, which is given to organizations that demonstrate excellence in sustainability efforts contributing to a safer and greener hospital, and a better community. Overlook was one of five HealthTrust member organizations that were singled out for supply chain excellence and social stewardship benefitting their providers, patients and communities.

“Now more than ever, it’s important for health care providers to find innovative ways to use the supplies we have,” said Carolyn Brown-Dancy, Atlantic Health System’s director of environmental health and safety. “This award demonstrates our commitment to finding new opportunities to be environmentally sustainable in health care.”

The award highlighted Overlook’s numerous achievements in environmental sustainability, and specifically its initiative in 2019 to repurpose surgical blue wrap, a material that accounts for a huge amount of hospital waste.

Blue wrap, used to cover sterile surgical instruments and materials, is made of polypropylene, which is lightweight and durable – and also incredibly non-biodegradable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that polypropylene accounts for 19 percent of all operating room waste - 255 million pounds annually throughout the nation.

Overlook Medical Center uses – and discards – about 15,000 lbs. of blue wrap each year, all of which is disposed of while still sterile. Using prototypes made by one of Overlook’s behavioral health nurses, Tami Ochs, RN, and supported by the hospital’s ‘Green Team,’ Overlook began turning the blue wrap into reusable tote bags, as well as ponchos and sleeping bags, some of which have been donated to Summit’s homeless.
Overlook has been piloting the bags as a replacement for plastic patient belonging bags, which is expected to eliminate 100,000 plastic bags and save $30 thousand a year. The hospital is also selling them in the gift shop, as well as providing them as part of a gift package for new mothers in Overlook’s maternity center.

“The blue wrap initiative truly showed how much more usefulness we can find in the materials we use every day in health care,” said Melissa Bonassisa, a medical imaging supervisor who is also a leader of Overlook’s Green Team.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling to have a pastime I enjoy be able to support Overlook’s efforts to improve our environment,” said Ochs, an avid sewing aficionado, who made the first tote bags to demonstrate blue wrap’s reusability, and has sewn hundreds more since then.

Overlook is nationally recognized as a leader in environmental sustainability for taking aggressive and innovative approaches to recycling and lowering its impact on the environment. The hospital has received the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award from Practice Greenhealth, its highest honor, for three consecutive years.

Overlook’s parent organization, Atlantic Health System, this year also achieved a new level of recognition from Practice Greenhealth, receiving the System for Change Award.

Recipients of the 2020 Member Recognition Awards, HealthTrust’s most prestigious honor, were announced last evening during a segment of HealthTrust University Conference livestreamed from Nashville. David Osborn, Ph.D., senior vice president of strategic accounts and advisory services, presented the awards to the health systems and their representatives.

Joining Bonassisa, Brown-Dancy and Ochs in accepting the award for Overlook were Adisa Mesalic, manager, strategic sourcing and Samantha Pierson, strategic sourcing analyst for Atlantic Health System.

In addition to receiving honors at the virtual conference, winning organizations will be featured in The Source magazine for HealthTrust members.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System has a long-standing tradition of providing exceptional patient outcomes and experiences. Home to seven award-winning hospitals including Morristown Medical Center, the number one hospital in NJ according to U.S. News & World Report, Castle Connolly and Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospitals, the system has been ranked first in New Jersey in consumer preference by Monigle and first among health systems in New Jersey as a “best workplace” by both Modern Healthcare and Fortune Magazine.

Many of the system’s programs have received national accolades and designations, including Morristown Medical Center’s Cardiology and Heart Surgery program ranked among the top 30 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report; Morristown Medical Center’s Orthopedics program ranked among the top 35 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and Atlantic Health System’s Cancer Care program, New Jersey’s first and only National Cancer Institute National Community Oncology Research Program. Additionally, Atlantic Health System Neuroscience at Overlook Medical Center, working with Atlantic Mobile Health, was the first in the nation to deploy and use portable Telestroke technology in ambulances for routine pre-hospital assessment of stroke patients.

Powered by a passionate workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey, including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system provides care for the full continuum of health needs across a wide array of settings, including Atlantic Medical Group, one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey with more than 1,000 physicians and providers, 12 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere’s Virtual Visits. Facilitating connections between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

With a clear sense of purpose and an unparalleled culture, Atlantic Health System attracts top leaders in the field of health care, from CEO Brian Gragnolati, who was Chairman of the American Hospital Association in 2019, to the numerous team members who serve as leaders across national clinical associations and research entities.