SON Lecturer & Students Team Up with Mission Ready to Recycle Expired Medical Supplies

SON Lecturer & Students Team Up with Mission Ready to Recycle Expired Medical Supplies

Growing up in California in the 1960s, SON Lecturer Heidi Winslow learned the importance of recycling at an early age. In second grade, she got points for reusing the same brown bag back every day with a new lunch inside. It was the kind of early foundation that would carrying on with her into adulthood.

As a clinical instructor, teaching an adult health course, Winslow grew concerned when she saw the waste pile up after demos. Two of her students, Cara Johnson and Macey Arrington (both in the Prelicensure Nursing Program) mentioned how they were bothered by the discarded items at the same time, and they decided they wanted to do something about it.

Over the summer of 2019, Winslow reached out to Dr. Kenneth White who is a part of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Mission Ready, a program that collects and inventories supplies that can't be used in the United States, because they have passed the manufacturer's expiration date or were part of a package that was opened but never used, and redistributes to developing countries where the products may save a life.

White was excited to take the discarded items, but first Winslow and her students had to get approval from the School of Nursing and the Adult Health 1 students.

After the approval process was finished, Dr. White asked Winslow and her team to separate the items into bags and label them.

“We gathered hundreds of items for Mission Ready,” Winslow said. “It was very rewarding for Cara, Macey and me to personally deliver our big box to Dr. White.”

Since that time, the trio have reached out to other clinical instructors in the SON, as well as the Simulation Learning Lab at Cape Fear Community College. Winslow said this was a pilot program for them, but their intention is to explore and promote a national program to reuse simulation supplies. 

“We realize that we are very fortunate to have the opportunities we do while receiving our education, and we wanted to find a way to pay it forward,” Johnson said.

“I’m in awe of how well this project is going,” Arrington said. “Being someone who has traveled to underdeveloped countries on mission trips, I am so excited that we can make such a difference in healthcare internationally. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and look forward to seeing it grow.”

Dr. Kenneth White said, “Thank you, Heidi! It was an honor to be the recipient of such a worthy project!”