Each day, Brookdale Senior Living serves over 100,000 seniors in more than 1,000 communities in 46 states. Brookdale is the only provider operating at this scale across all segments of the senior living continuum. Levels of care offered include independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, rehabilitation and skilled nursing, continuing care retirement communities, and a variety of ancillary services including home health and hospice care.
Faced with the daunting task of complying with federal and individual state regulatory requirements for medical waste storage, transportation, and disposal, Brookdale turned to Sharps Compliance. Sharps spoke with Stephanie Talley, Divisional Director of Clinical Operations for Brookdale to learn more about the 19-year relationship between Brookdale Senior Living and Sharps Compliance.
- Would you describe the types of specialized care that Brookdale skilled nursing facilities offer?
Brookdale Senior Living provides a variety of specialized care in our skilled communities. Our goal is to always be great at providing the best quality care for individuals. We offer rehab, skilled nursing, and long-term care. We also have our Specialized Clinical Programs from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Management, Bone and Joint Care, Wound Care, Heart Failure Program, and Stroke Program.
- Describe the types of medical wastes generated by skilled nursing facilities.
Within our skilled communities, we are faced with managing our pharmaceutical, biohazard, and sharp waste based on regulatory requirements.
- How do you determine if your hazardous waste meets RCRA’s definition of P-listed, U-listed, or characteristic wastes?
Utilization of experts in the field is crucial in determining the many components to pharmaceutical waste based on the RCRA’s definitions. It is imperative that the associates, especially at the community level are provided with the tools to be successful. Having the proper disposal containers readily available also impacts overall compliance.
- What sort of training tools do you use to educate staff on the proper handling and storage of biomedical waste?
Regulatory guidance does dictate industry standards on management of biomedical waste. We are very fortunate to have partners such as Sharps and our contracted pharmacy that are always readily available to provide training materials, education, and support in this area. We include the management of biomedical waste in our orientation for new associates hired in skilled, and it is also in our annual training calendar.
- As people age, they generally take more medications. What are your procedures for disposing of pharmaceutical waste?
We partner with Sharps to utilize the mail in of our pharmaceutical waste. The process may minimally vary from state to state based on regulations, but pretty consistently we use the various containers provided by Sharps that are designed for controlled substances, non-controlled substances, etc.
- Hazardous and medical waste disposal regulations vary from state to state. Brookdale has facilities located nationwide. How do you handle that challenge?
One of the great components of working in such a large company is that you have many departments that are assigned to managing regulatory changes from procurement, legal, clinical, etc. However, we know that our business is providing skilled care services, and you want to align yourself with a company that can enhance expertise in this area. We believe that it is important to collaborate with a biomedical company such as Sharps and have a continued open dialogue with guidance in this area.
- When regulations/requirements change, is it difficult for you to implement new policies?
I believe that we have streamlined our process for implementation of changes of process for our skilled communities. We diligently provide written communication of changes in a start, stop, continue document, which links to policy/form changes followed by live education. We have our Regional Directors of Clinical Operations follow up with each skilled community they support.
- Can you describe how your staff executes “cradle-to-grave” waste tracking procedures?
As a healthcare entity, we have an obligation to manage the biomedical waste that is created which starts with creation to identification to disposal. We manage it at the community level with education, proper identification, containment, and documentation to the point of transportation of proper disposal. That is why our alliance with Sharps is so important for the compliance of the disposal component.
- What was your selection process for choosing Sharps Compliance as your medical waste disposal company?
Our procurement team along with clinical collaborated to select a company that not only delivers on their promise but also makes it convenient and affordable to maintain compliance. We certainly vetted other companies but were all in agreement that Sharps would meet the greater need of a multi-state company.