#BehindtheMask of the Medical Device Reprocessing Department

We are going very #behindthemask here to a group of healthcare heroes who you rarely get a chance to learn about, the 22-member team of our Medical Device Reprocessing Department. These essential workers clean, disinfect, sterilize, package and manage the tracking on every reusable piece of medical equipment at the Hospital, from small nurse’s scissors through to large bone saws. Without the work of these technicians, our patients would not be safe when they come here for surgery and treatments.

The volume of work in MDRD is affected by the volume of surgeries being done. This ramped down dramatically when the Hospital began to prepare for a predicted surge of COVID-19 patients. The empty case carts where sterilized kits usually sit waiting for each patient’s surgery were very sobering to see. It was unclear how long this would last – weeks? months? This created a lot of uncertainty for the MDRD team on top of the concerns about how to stay safe from this unknown virus. Quickly they put in place new ways of working that would allow them to maintain physical distancing.

Staff showed courage and stepped up to be redeployed as Screeners for staff and visitors. Interacting directly with the public was outside of the comfort zone for many but the desire to be of service compelled them to do it. Others were redeployed to Environmental Services while a core few kept up with the reprocessing needs of in-patient surgery and high priority procedures. The staff were willing, ready and able to work anywhere the Hospital needed them. Change is hard for staff teams to weather but MDRD supported each other through this uncertainty.

The unexpected slow down did allow MDRD to complete the installation and set-up of the three new autoclaves. The complicated new steam sterilizers needed to be tested and brought online which would have been very challenging with normal surgical volumes when over 15,000 items are reprocessed every month. The $500,000 in equipment was funded by donors from the community.This pandemic is an exceptional time. MDRD staff proved to be exceptional too as they stepped out of their regular roles to be of service to the Hospital. Thank you!

This story originated on Guelph General Hospital’s Facebook page on August 18th, 2020 as part of its #behindthemask series to share how the Hospital is working hard to protect patients and visitors from #COVID19.