SUMMIT, NJ – DECEMBER 2019 - With icy weather on its way, Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center put its innovative spirit to work to help protect the City of Summit’s homeless population, with a donation of its own hand-made sleeping bags and pillows, created from re-purposed surgical blue wrap.

Surgical blue wrap, used to cover sterile surgical instruments and materials, is made of polypropylene, which is lightweight and durable – and also incredibly non-biodegradable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that polypropylene also accounts for 19 percent of all operating room waste - 255 million pounds annually throughout the nation.

Overlook Medical Center discards about 15,000 lbs. of blue wrap each year, and this year began repurposing the material into re-useable items like tote bags, through the efforts of Tami Ochs, behavioral health nurse, supported by the Overlook Green Team.

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Moving its focus beyond the hospital into the community, the hospital created the sleeping bags and pillows to benefit the local homeless population. On Wednesday, Nov. 27, Overlook prepared care packages that each included a sleeping bag, pillow and toiletries, all contained in a blue wrap tote bag. The care packages were given to representatives of Summit Helping Its People (SHIP), along with meals prepared by Overlook’s food and nutrition department.

“Repurposing surgical blue wrap into reusable items is one of the many innovations at Overlook that has made us a leader in sustainability,” said Overlook president Alan Lieber. “We are proud to now have this initiative directly benefit our local community, and will continue to look for new ways to put this material to use for those inside and outside our walls.”

SHIP officials noted that every item in the packages would be of use to the city’s homeless and at-risk homeless population.

“Firstly, incredibly enough, in a community like ours which is considered to be affluent, there is a population who are homeless and are sleeping outdoors, so these sleeping bags will definitely get used,” said Christopher Cotter, a board member of SHIP, who accompanied program director Ramond Mangaroo to the donation.

“Additionally, they are always looking for something to carry their belongings in, so the tote bag will also be well-received and the other pieces like the toiletries, will also be helpful,” Mangaroo noted. “We expect all of these will be put into pretty immediate use, and you may see them out in the community soon.”

To learn more about how Overlook is repurposing surgical blue wrap, visit: https://www.atlantichealth.org/about-us/stay-connected/news/press-releases/2019/surgical-wrap-bags.html

To learn more about Summit Helping Its People, visit: www.shipofsummit.org