Our Lady of Lourdes Staff Gives Back to Homeless Community Through Eco-Conscious Mission

By Melanie Zayas, SNJ Today Reporter, December 6, 2018

CAMDEN, N.J. -

Medical staff at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Camden enforces a way to be green while also giving back to the community.

The Lourdes Operating Room “Green Team” takes on an eco-friendly mission to give back to the homeless community by upcycling waste materials.

OR Manager Anthony Diorio says the team takes blue material sheets, used to hold sterilized surgical instruments, turning them into what looks similar to a yoga mat.

“A lot of staff are passionate about the environment and environmentally friendly initiatives so this was one way to try to meet sort of both of those purposes — really serve the community being environmentally friendly and putting this waste in some sense to good use,” said Diorio. 

Staff at Lourdes Hospital say more than 150 mats have been created with 100 donated to Pennsauken and Cherry Hill police departments.

Surgical Technician Dana Scarangelli says it has been a way to bond law enforcement and the underserved community together. 

“Homeless people aren’t used to somebody just walking up and giving them something and they’re used to being told to you know shoo or go away,” said Scarangelli. 

She also shows how the job is done. 

“Two 48-by-48, large pieces, large mats folded in half and then sandwiched within each other and then you just have to sew a straight line around, some people pin them. These are mats that haven’t been made yet, I staple them and then just sew it up," says Scarangelli. "When you’re done, then you have this, which is a little thicker and it’s impervious so it’s totally waterproof and it can retain a little bit of heat so if you’re laying on it it’s going to keep you a little bit warmer than, you know, a wet newspaper or something like that.” 

Scarangelli says the woman behind the project who the Lourdes Hospital staff were inspired by created a label "du coeur" on every yoga mat meaning "from the heart" in French. The letters O and R are intentionally capitalized to mean "from the heart of the OR." 

Ian Menewisch, RNFA, says the OR staff intends to continue is eco-driven mission for as long as possible. 

“It’s not impossible, but it is harder to recycle it, so our best option right now until we find potentially someone that can take this on and recycle it is to just do our best to upcycle it and then, in the meantime, you know, if we can help people during the process that makes it even better,” said Menewisch.

To learn more, visit facebook.com/bearheart4101

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