Adrian Boteanu / Sun Staff Photographer

Cayuga Medical Center and Quilters Corner team up to recycle their surgical waste into blankets, reusing the warmth.

February 13, 2020

Cayuga Medical Recycles Surgical Wrap Into Blankets

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While surgical wrap — a fabric that sterilizes and protects surgical instruments — is a critical tool in any medical facility, it is not particularly biodegradable.

To avoid the pile-up of waste, employees from the  Neurodiagnostics Department of the Cayuga Medical Center and volunteers from Ithaca’s Quilters Corner teamed up to create a sustainable solution: Making blankets.

The project, called “Recycle the Warmth,” seeks to distribute these surgical wrap blankets to the neediest communities in Ithaca.

These blankets, made of twelve 44×44 inch squares of surgical wrappings that were once used to heat sterilized surgical instruments, will be distributed to the SPCA of Tompkins County, St. John’s Rescue Mission and the Ithaca Police Department squad cars.

The project was inspired by Florida’s Tampa General Hospital, which used its surgical equipment covers to make sleeping bags for homeless people in the area. Deanna Jacobs,  supervisor of Cayuga Medical’s Neurodiagnostics Department, joined a cohort of employees and partnered with Quilting Corners to make this vision a reality in Ithaca.

Volunteers from Quilting Corners, like Lynda VanNederynen, teamed up with Jacobs to make a blanket that is waterproof and heat retainable. This eco-friendly project has already made at least twelve blankets and will continue to make them as more volunteers join.

The material used in the quilts never comes in contact with hospital patients and undergoes inspections to ensure that the quilts meet health guidelines, allowing people to safely use them.