Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, which holds a harm reduction clinic each Wednesday to help address the state’s growing hepatitis C/HIV epidemic caused by injecting drugs, is using state-of-the art technology to dispose of used syringes returned to the clinic. The device, made by Sterilis, LLC, has been installed at KCHD.
About 300 people weekly attend the clinic. More than 85 percent of returning patients bring back syringes. Nearly 200,000 have been returned since the clinic’s December 2015 inception.
The Sterilis device is a safer, more sustainable, proven alternative to the decades-old method of hauling regulated medical waste, like the returned syringes, off-site to be incinerated. According to Dr. Michael Brumage, KCHD health officer, “The best way to treat medical waste is as close to the point of generation as possible.”
KCHD officials will illustrate how the machine processes medical waste at an event Monday, July 10, at 11 a.m. at the KCHD offices. KCHD offices are located at 108 Lee Street in Charleston.
The Sterilis method reduces waste volume by about 80 percent. Once the user places the medical waste into the device, shuts the lid, and touches the green start icon on the touchpad, it sterilizes the waste at 280 degrees. The device holds waste for about 30 minutes, then releases it into a grinding mechanism that transforms it into a confetti-like substance. The waste drops into a collection drawer that contains a bag with proper regulatory markings. The collection bag can then be placed into a solid waste receptacle.
The portable patented device is about the size of an office photocopier. It plugs into a standard electrical outlet and requires no plumbing or drainage.