When waste isn't waste

Preparing the former site of St John of God Berwick Hospital for its new life as the St John of God Langmore Centre has presented an initial hurdle – what to do with 10 tonnes of equipment that is no longer needed.

29 Nov 2021

St John of God Langmore Centre and Berwick Hospital medical equipment donations

Many of the items were still functional but were no longer needed or usable at the new St John of God Berwick Hospital and were surplus to requirements for the new facility.

So the redevelopment team, led by St John of God Langmore Centre Clinical Redevelopment Manager Evan Rundell, engaged Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Chris Bourke and International Health Director Anthea Ramos to find some solutions.

Anthea sought funding and help from Rotary – Donations in Kind, to fill and transport a 40ft shipping container filled with about four tonnes of medical items to donate to Timor-Leste’s national hospital including:

  • 32 hospital beds
  • 35 mattresses
  • 50 pillows
  • 40 bedside tables
  • 35 over-bed tables
  • 32 chairs
  • 1 filing cabinet.

“We are really pleased to have been able to find good use for the items in Timor-Leste. The beds, mattresses and pillows will provide a great deal of comfort to patients, and the bedside lockers and over-bed tables will make life a little easier as well,” Anthea said.

“We estimated that if the hospital had wanted to purchase these items it would have cost in excess of $250,000.”

Chris engaged social enterprise, PonyUp for Good, to remove e-waste, scrap metal was recycled, and a caregiver garage sale was held to give a second life to other furniture items with money raised donated to charity.

“A veterinary practice even removed the theatre lights and sterilising equipment for reuse,” Chris said.

“We have estimated that we have filled the equivalent of about four 40ft shipping containers with these items which will be reused. This is an incredible result.”

Evan said it was amazing to see everyone bring their skills and networks together, for a common cause.

“It initially felt like a massive task, one that could leave anyone overwhelmed but a great strength of St John of God Health Care is the resources and skills of our workforce. After engaging with Chris, we quickly established our shared goal of trying to donate or reuse as many of these items as possible and minimise our impact on waste.”