he St Augustine Private Medical Hospital is now facing a probe by the Ministry of Health after medical waste from the institution was found dumped at Psalm Drive, off St John’s Road, St Augustine, yesterday morning.
However, an official from the institution who spoke anonymously told the T&T Guardian yesterday blamed a contractor for the incident, saying they were in charge of the hospital’s waste disposal.
The private contractor, the official said, was supposed to take all of the hospital’s “garbage” to the Beetham landfill but clearly did “his own thing” yesterday.
“When the garbage left here, unfortunately, it was not known to us where it was being disposed of, other than the agreed destination. But we will be launching our own internal investigations into it and we have already called in the contractor to get to the bottom of it,” the official said.
The official revealed the institution’s general manager, Dr Dinesh Ariyanayagam, was called to a meeting after photographs of the waste at the site, which was discovered by CEPEP workers on duty in the area, began circulating on social media.
Calls to the hospital’s medical director, Dr Ajit Audit, were unsuccessful.
According to reports, around 7 am CEPEP workers carrying out duties in St Augustine, discovered the medical waste, which included syringes, gloves, plastic bags filled with used and labelled medical items, dumped at the site.
The truck which dumped the waste was reportedly still at the scene, according to CEPEP chairman Aston Ford.
Ford told the T&T Guardian said a meeting was held with CEPEP general manager Keith Eddy and the health and safety department visited the site to conduct its own investigations.
He said workers were not allowed to touch such materials when encountered so they can safeguard evidence.
Chief Medical Dr Roshan Parasram, though not wanting to preempt the findings of investigations, said there was some legislation under which legal action can be taken for such an act.
The legislation includes the Litter Act, Public Health Ordinance and the Private Hospitals’ Act. The offices of the Chief Public Health Inspector and Chief County Medical Officer of Health for St George East will be in charge of the probe.
Parasram said he would wait on the report and once the information is relayed a course of action going forward will be made public.
Right way to dispose of medical waste
Six types of medical waste exist that must be disposed of properly, including sharps, biohazard, trace chemo, RCRA hazard, pharmaceutical and radioactive.
Each type has its own colour-coded bin for storage at a medical facility.
For example, biomedical waste disposal starts out in a red container at the medical facility. This includes infectious waste, blood products, contaminated personal protective equipment, IV tubing, cultures and stacks.
Trace chemo goes into yellow containers and may include empty vials, ampules, empty syringes and needles, empty IVs, gowns, gloves, tubing, aprons, wipes and packaging.
It may seem as if though most anything that leaves medical facilities is regulated medical waste.
However, only 10 to 25 per cent is regulated medical waste that needs proper medical waste disposal.
The rest is paper and other product that doesn’t come into contact with patients.
The WHO categorises this as general waste. It doesn’t have any risk to human health since it is never in contact with blood or other body fluids.
Medical personnel must dispose of medical waste in colour-coded containers.
Medical waste must be stored in a secure area where the general public doesn’t have access to it. It must also be kept separate from areas that are regulated for food consumption.
The secure area must also have a refrigerator or a freezer for medical waste that must be kept below certain temperatures.
Once a biohazard waste disposal company picks up the medical waste, it transports and treats it based on certain regulations by OSHA and other agencies that may control medical waste regulations.
Treatment varies depending on the type of medical waste, thus it is important to keep waste in the appropriate colour-coded receptacles. Some waste may be incinerated and some may be treated by irradiation, autoclaving or chemical methods.
Once the waste has been treated and deemed non-hazardous, it is then disposed of according to solid waste disposal regulations. Fluids are solidified, thus they become solid waste. Some fluids may be disposed of into a sanitary sewer system, which is separate from the general sewer system. (www.medwasteservice.com)
Reporter: Bobie-Lee Dixon