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Recycle MRIs and CTs with MedREcyle Without Disrupting Patients

by Michael Johns, Project Manager | May 31, 2006
Tom Gohn looks to deinstall
equipment without disturbing
the work environment
When you want to recycle an empty soda can, all you need to do is find the nearest recycling bin. But what happens when the can weighs over 16,000 pounds? You need to find Tom Gohn.

Gohn has been in the business of recycling medical equipment for the past seven years. He runs a recycling service for hospitals called MedREcycle (a subsidiary of the full-service imaging deinstallation company International Health Network, based in St. Louis, Missouri). The "cans" he recycles are actually Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, Linear Accelerators, Simulators and Rad rooms.

De-installing and recycling medical equipment usually takes anywhere from seven to ten days to complete, according to Gohn. The first step is disconnecting the miles of cable hooked up to the machines. Next, Gohn and his crew break down the equipment. Finally, the parts must be removed from the hospital - ideally through the ceiling or out a window - where they are hauled away by forklifts or trucks.


Preparing a Linear Accelerator


The greatest challenge of all, however, is not with machines but people. The real key is to remove equipment without disturbing the patients. Aside from keeping the noise level at a minimum, the process requires adequate ventilation to eliminate the fumes. MRIs are often performed a mere twenty feet away while the MedREcycle team de-installs another machine. "It has to be like we're not even here," Gohn said.

Environmental Protection Agency standards require the proper disposal of bio-hazardous materials, and that is where Gohn and his unique service can help. Metals like aluminum and stainless steel are recycled. Spare parts can be resold. In some cases, the equipment is reinstalled in foreign countries.

MedREcycle has a client list that includes several nearby hospitals as well as hospitals in New York, Indiana, Arizona, China and Mexico.

As hospitals continue to add wings to their facilities and make the transition from analog to digital equipment, there is a greater need for MedREcycle than ever before.

For more information, contact Tom Gohn at the link above. (His number is 314-443-5833; the company website address is www.ihn1.com.)