WhidbeyHealth can no longer accept sharps and other bio-hazardous medical waste from the community after Jan. 1, 2020 at the medical center and clinics, the health system reported.
Officials at the hospital are taking steps to meet safety and compliance standards related to medical waste.
As a health system, WhidbeyHealth falls under different regulations than those governing residential waste.
Since hospital personnel cannot determine the origin or condition of residential waste, it “poses a serious and unacceptable risk” to the staff.
The safety and compliance requirements for sharps — hypodermic needles and other devices with sharp points or edges — and other medical waste are complex.
Hospital officials depend on a specialized vendor to help them navigate the rules.
“The good news is that there are plenty of other places to dispose of medical waste — some of which don’t even require leaving home,” WhidbeyHealth officials said in a prepared release.
Guidelines about sharps disposal are on the Island County website. It’s easier to find by searching “sharps” on the website.
“In short, we want to keep our staff safe. We want to make sure no dangerous waste circulates around our neighborhoods,” a WhidbeyHealth press release states.
“We want to make sure the hospital is complying with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the EPA and OSHA.”
Island County locations accepting sharps disposal include the Bayview Solid Waste Dropbox & Recycle Park, Coupeville Solid Waste Complex and North Whidbey Solid Waste Dropbox & Recycle Park.
At these locations, the attendant must be notified that sharps are being disposed of but they do not have to be presented for inspection.
There is no size limit for containers. Per instructions, all sharps must be in a commercial sharps container or in a screw top PETE (plastic #1) container with the lid or cap in place and secured with tape. Disposal fees may apply.
Island Drug in Oak Harbor also accepts sharps disposal, but customers must purchase a replacement.