Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment kicked off the first in a series of educational events, with partner hospital University of Maryland Medical Center.

In November 2010, MD H2E awarded four recipient hospitals for their Trailblazing activities on their journey to sustainability in health care. On February 15th, the University of Maryland Medical Center proudly hosted the Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste Management program, complete with a healthy lunch served with compostable serviceware.

The University of Maryland Medical Center Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste Management team presented to a full room of pharmacists, nurses, facility managers, and others about the design, development and implementation of UMMC’s hazardous pharmaceutical waste management program. Leonard Taylor, Vice President of Facilities and executive leader of the UMMC Green Team, welcomed the crowd of 50 to the event. The presentation on UMMC’s program was provided by the team co-leads — Sustainability Manager Denise Choiniere and Pharmacy Clinical Specialist Bethany Shelbourne. Their talk was thorough and inspiring. Attendees learned about key questions to address when starting a program, such as:

  • Why build an EPA pharmaceutical program?
  • How do we get out of the starting block?
  • Do we build this program internally or externally?
  • How much and what do we collect?
  • Do we segregate front-end or back-end?
  • How many containers will we need?
  • How do we train 2,000 nurses?
  • How do we monitor compliance?

The team, which involved members of pharmacy, nursing, safety, and environmental services, began a pilot program in the cancer center. After 90 days, it was deemed a success and ready to be instituted across the Medical Center. This included the critical task of educating 2,000 nurses. But educate they did, at committee meetings, via e-mails, on posters, in-services and more. And the program is going strong.

According to Denise, it was important to eliminate the possibility of human error: on the label of all UMMC’s hazardous pharmaceuticals, it says “Hazardous Waste,” with instructions for proper disposal.

The attendees were delighted by the event. One said afterward that, “The amount of work showed. It was flawless.” Another gushed, “It feels like a load off. I feel ready to go with this at my hospital now. It’s wonderful to hear from someone else in the area who has done this already. It’s a hot topic and it’s the right thing to do.”

For those who were not able to attend, the UMMC presentation is available here.

For more information on instituting a hazardous pharmaceutical waste program, contact Denise Choiniere, Sustainability Manager, at