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Medical waste clogs sewers page 2
Medical trash from Mary Washington Hospital is being dumped in the city sewer system. Two times it has clogged a city pump station.

Date published: 8/11/2011

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The city operates a pump station down the hill from the hospital, on Executive Center Parkway in the Snowden Office Park. Since sewage from several medical facilities flows into the station, the city staff wanted to make sure that the medical waste that was clogging the pumps was from the hospital.

"We knew what we were seeing, but we weren't sure where it was coming from," Fawcett said.

City workers put hooks in the manholes upstream from the pump station, snagged some of the offending material and showed it to the hospital staff.

"The hospital has acknowledged that their facility is the source of the materials," Fawcett said.

In his letter to Cameron, Rankin said that hospital officials have posted signs and sent memos to the staff to remind them of the proper way to dispose of medical waste.

In a statement released yesterday, Marie Fredrick, vice president for properties and ambulatory services, said: "We immediately communicated with staff to make sure they are up to speed on appropriate waste disposal, and we have signs posted throughout the hospital. In addition, we have ensured signs are up in all public restrooms and patient rooms concerning disposal of waste."

Debbie McInnis, a hospital spokeswoman, said yesterday that hospital officials have not identified where the material is coming from.

"There's no way to pinpoint the exact location within the hospital," she said. "It could have come from all kinds of sources."

Hospitals often hire contract companies to pick up their medical waste. A spokeswoman for Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center said yesterday that its contractor removes the material weekly.

Some of the waste, such as syringes or bloody bandages, can be hazardous.

The disposal of hospital waste is overseen by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Richard Doucette, waste program manager at the DEQ's Northern Virginia office, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Jim Hall: 540/374-5433
Email: jhall@freelancestar.com


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