Operating Room staff at Elmhurst Hospital recently found a way to turn surgical tray wraps into items of comfort for the homeless in Chicago.
In an effort led by Audrey Less, CRNA, a nurse anesthetist at Elmhurst Hospital who began the project to take her mind off a family tragedy, the team collected surgical tray wraps—waterproof fabric that wraps trays of sterilized surgical instruments.
Less’ cousin, 24-year-old Dayna Less, a pharmacy resident, was one of three people killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Nov. 19, 2018.
Audrey Less’ mother and aunt sewed the collected wraps into mats and blankets. On Dec. 27, they donated 170 mats and blankets to Southwest Chicago Homeless Services. Any leftover wraps that were too small were donated to the Hinsdale Humane Society.
“Our nature as health professionals is to help people. That doesn’t stop when we leave the hospital,” Less says. “All of my coworkers were so excited. It turned out even better than I thought.”
Within seven days of Less’s callout to her coworkers, the OR staff had collected enough surgical tray wraps to create the sizeable donation.
“There’s a real entrepreneurial opportunity within hospitals to look at how we can use discarded, non-medical waste to benefit those in the community,” Less says. “It would be great to scale up and help as many people as possible with the resources available to us.”
Now, she would like to make it an annual event. As the collection of wraps grows, she says she could use distribution ideas as well as volunteers to help sew and sort the wraps. Anyone interested in helping may contact Less at email@example.com.
“The people working at the hospital aren’t done helping when you walk out the door,” Less says. “It was an opportunity for us to be not only healthy driven, but human driven.”