Team of medical professionals turns would-be trash into sleeping bags

Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 9:52 PM CST
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A team of MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center surgeons and nurses are saving what would otherwise be hospital waste and turning it into a way to help the homeless.

Surgeon Scott Stoeger usually uses the sanitation wraps to keep the surgical tools clean.

“The goal of the sterilization process is to retain heat to sterilize the instruments,” he said.

But once the material is used one time, they have to throw it out.

“They can get small tears in them and they need to be completely intact during the sterilization process,” he said.

Instead of wasting the material, Doctor Stoeger is collecting the otherwise hospital waste and turning it into sleeping bags for the homeless. The material is sturdy and is designed to retain heat.

“It gives them a way to stay warm during this time of year,” he said.

He started collecting the sterilization wrap six months ago and learned to use a sewing machine to make the sleeping bags. He has already donated 60 of the recycled bags to the Peoples Community Health Clinic. He plans to continue making them and donating them to the Salvation Army and the Catholic Worker House.

“Instead of disposing of the material, we can re-purpose it and have it serve a different purpose for those in the community,” he said.

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