As the number of off-site health care facilities grew along with the medical practices in Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group, so did the complexities of managing the growing amount of regulated medical waste being generated and related compliance challenges.
It became clear that the group needed a tool to document the type and amount of regulated medical waste generated and also to offer ongoing training to the staff members at each office and facility designated to handle the waste.
Documentation and training were essential to comply with Joint Commission standards as well as Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.
DOT and OSHA can assess fines for noncompliance. The Joint Commission requires compliance for health care facilities to become accredited.
With nearly 180 medical office buildings, outpatient infusion centers, urgent care centers, physical therapy centers and more in the group, it is a lot to manage, says Cari Pollard, material manager, Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group.
To simplify compliance, Pollard expanded the use of Stericycle’s SteriVantage portal to the rapidly growing number of off-site facilities in the Virginia medical group.
SteriVantage is a Web-based tool used to standardize and document training that employees are required to take before they can handle or manage regulated medical waste generated at their site.
The type and amount of regulated medical waste is documented by Stericycle, which then issues a report each month to Pollard about employees who have been trained to handle the waste. This keeps the medical group in compliance with the Joint Commission, she says.
“As new sites that manage sharps or regulated medical waste are opened or acquired by Bon Secours, the facilities are immediately added to the Stericycle system to keep our network compliant with the Joint Commission standards,” Pollard says.
Part of Pollard’s job is to ensure that staff designated to handle regulated medical waste at the dozens of facilities within the network maintain and renew their training certification as required to meet Joint Commission standards and DOT regulations regarding handling and transport of regulated medical waste.
“Using the SteriVantage portal keeps staff more informed,” Pollard says. “Employees can train on their own, eliminating the need for staff coordination. Certifications are more fluid because the system offers a visible way to see who has or has not been trained.”
At the time of hire and every three years thereafter, DOT training is required for any staff member who ties a red bag containing regulated medical waste and closes the container for the drive and for the one who signs the shipping documents or manifest for transporting. Bon Secours requires DOT training for at least two staff members at each of its sites and every year from the date of initial training, which takes it a step further than federal requirements.
The Joint Commission surveyors ensure that hospitals and off-site locations adhere to these regulations at both the state and federal levels.
SteriVantage also offers tools for OSHA blood-borne pathogen training and compliance for staff who could be “reasonably anticipated” to come into contact with materials containing blood or other infectious materials. The Virginia medical group has not mandated the system’s use for OSHA regulations, Pollard says.
Pollard praises the ability of SteriVantage to enable her to standardize and document training and compliance across the multiple sites in her network, thanks to the 24/7 access to Web-based training and compliance tools offered by the system.
“Having the online SteriVantage system is convenient, especially when we have so many types of facilities with many moving parts,” she says.
The system also offers the network the flexibility to have staff take the training when it is best for the facility, which includes taking the training outside of work. “They can do the training at their convenience,” Pollard says.
HOSPITAL // Bon Secours Virginia Medical Group
NEED // Training for DOT and Joint Commission waste-handling requirements
SOLUTION // Stericycle's SteriVantage online training tool