Clinical waste left in decommissioned hospitals

“About a month ago, hazmat crews were called to Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette, Pennsylvania because of medical waste issues. The building has been closed for four years, but it seems proper medical waste disposal didn’t happen, because they found needles and bags of medical waste all over the building. The scarier thing is, the building is known to have people break in from time to time, and so the medical waste left is a real potential hazard.

It is strange that this should happen, since similar things have happened here in London. Twice Blenkharn Environmental has been involved in issues created by the inadequate clearing and proper decommissioning of closed hospitals.

Called in by builders ready to demolish or to strip and later rebuild in buildings abandoned by the NHS and the Army Medical Service respectively, it seems common for users to move out and not give another thought to removal of the residual detritus of healthcare. Clinical waste and other less hazardous wastes were found in many locations throughout each hospital, together with various items of fixed and mobile equipment that would properly require decontamination prior to disposal.

Planning is vitally important and credit must go to those who plan the seamless transfer of services from an old and often dilapidated hospital to new premises. Sadly, the final safety management of the abandoned site is too often overlooked, perhaps only for reasons of cost and a little planning.

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