Northwell implements new on-site laboratory treatment technology for COVID-19 infected medical waste
LAKE SUCCESS, NY — To minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, Northwell Health has become the first US health system to implement a new technology that breaks down medical waste from laboratory testing in a safe, environmentally friendly way.
Developed by Irish-based Technopath Clinical Diagnostics, the Envetec 200 system simultaneously shreds and disinfects infectious waste using a patented destruction and disinfection process that kills all COVID-19 viruses along with all bacteria, spores and other pathogens that pose a danger to human health. No heat is required in the process and no dangerous chemicals emanate from the system at the end of each 20-minute cycle. The resulting confetti-like solid residue is categorized as regular trash, completely safe to handle and can be used for waste to energy applications.
The Envetec 200 system can process 300 pounds of waste in one hour and can handle about two-and-a-half times the amount of medical waste currently generated at Northwell’s Core Lab in Lake Success, NY.
“The Envetec 200 technology exemplifies Northwell’s dedication and constant search for the very latest and innovative technologies available in healthcare,” said Dwayne Breining, MD, executive director of Northwell Labs. “We have carefully evaluated our options to eliminate any potential risks associated with the new large-scale testing for COVID-19 being performed at Northwell Labs.
“We are extremely confident that the Envetec system provides us with the best-in-class technology solution for treating hazardous health care waste at source and also eliminates any unknown risk of infection to the wider community.”
Malcolm Bell, Technopath CEO and founder, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with Northwell Health and provide them with the first of these systems in the US. The technology which has just been launched has been in development for a number of years and has completed rigorous trials. It is the most advanced, environmentally friendly and cost-effective technology available for the treatment of hazardous health care waste. The launch of the technology has coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic and will be beneficial in the global efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Implementing the Envetec 200 technology comes as Northwell continues to ramp up COVID-19 testing. Northwell Labs is one of 89 public health laboratories in the US testing for the novel coronavirus and recently advanced to fully automated testing capabilities, which allows the health system to test more than 1,600 potential COVID-19 samples daily.
Northwell Labs installed the Envetec 200 technology in October 2019, but waited on regulatory approval before completing the validation of the system. On March 13, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to ensure that the previous laws and regulations would continue to be modified or suspended so that a series of special emergency measures could be put into effect. Governor Cuomo’s executive order fast-tracked the formal approvals from the EPA and New York Dept of Health that had been pending, allowing Northwell to successfully complete the validation and put the technology into immediate use.
One of the unknown risk exposures to public health safety from COVID-19 is the treatment and disposal of regulated medical waste. Traditional disposal methods that are widely employed include road-hauling untreated infectious waste from labs and other health care facilities to disposal sites in other states, followed by environmentally detrimental thermal treatment and landfilling.
“For the past several weeks, Northwell has continued to take on the health and safety challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Michael Dowling, Northwell president and CEO. “This new technology allows us to remove the unknown risk exposure when disposing of medical waste while avoiding the need for the costly and carbon-inefficient transportation and disposal by third-party handlers. It’s a positive light during a unique time.”