Wednesday, August 26, 2015 12:00 AM

New Sterile Processing Saves 85,000 Gallons a year

A new $50,000 sterile processing system just installed at Community Regional Medical Center will save and estimated 85,000 gallons a year in water. It’s one of several water-saving measures Community’s hospitals have adopted during California’s historic drought.

Mike Powell, director of clinical engineering at Community Regional, shows off new sterile processing equipment installed to save 85,000 gallons of water a year.

The new high-tech stainless steel washers use 1 gallon of super-heated water to wash more surgical instruments than the old washers, which used 180 gallons per load. The new sterile processers will go online this fall once a special elevator is installed to bring the sterilized instruments to the hospital floors.

In addition, the hospital has where possible, installed low-water use fixtures and drip irrigation, replaced lawn and perennials in some areas with drought-tolerant plants, switched to water-free methods to clean parking lots, sidewalks and loading docks of debris, and put in new equipment cooled by air or recycled water.

Community Regional’s grounds and maintenance director now sits on the California Hospital Council’s drought task force to continue to look for innovative conservation methods.

At the healthcare system’s second largest hospital, Clovis Community Medical Center, bed space was doubled in a $300 million expansion completed in 2014 without increasing water use for patients and staff. The hospital replaced toilets with low-flow models and is using motion sensor faucets. The high-efficiency fixtures reduce water usage by 63% for sinks, 32% for showers and 28% for toilets.

And Clovis Community partnered with the City of Clovis to put in infrastructure on its 125-acre campus to use recycled water for landscaping. This recycled water, from the City of Clovis, would otherwise be routed to percolation ponds for evaporation or sent down creeks and canals. Instead, the purple pipes, designating the water as “not fit for drinking,” irrigate new drought tolerant trees, grasses and shrubs on a 50-acre landscaping project. It saves an estimated 30 million gallons of potable water annually.

Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital has also adopted water-saving irrigation tactics and is installing low-flow fixtures in the hospital.

Reported by Erin Kennedy. Reach her at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org