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Pennsylvania Hospital Found Throwing Medical Waste in Landfills

WILKES-BARRE, Pennsylvania, January 25, 2008 (ENS) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection today fined the Pocono Medical Center $100,000 for illegally disposing and managing infectious and chemotherapeutic waste in 2006. Pocono Medical Center is an acute-care, not-for-profit community hospital in in East Stroudsburg, Monroe County.

“The medical center was not following procedures for separating its medical waste from its normal solid waste,” said DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin. “They shipped it to two regional landfills where it was found and removed for proper disposal.”

The illegally disposed waste from the medical center was discovered in Lackawanna County’s Keystone Landfill and the Grand Central Landfill in Northampton County in April 2006, after DEP began investigating the waste sent to those facilities.

The department also determined that Pocono Medical Center failed to properly label containers of infectious waste and failed to ensure that an employee involved with packaging infectious waste wore protective overalls and gloves.

A notice of violation was sent to the medical center on August 1, 2006, that documented the illegal disposal and the improper procedures at the center.

According to the notice, Pocono Medical Center was to submit a plan and implementation schedule addressing the violations.

DEP worked with the medical center to address the problems, and the most recent inspection of the facility in June 2007 determined that it had taken measures to correct and prevent the violations.

“We feel this fine reflects the seriousness of the violations, in which people, waste haulers and landfill employees could have been at risk of contact with this medical waste,” said Bedrin. “The medical center has implemented internal procedures required by DEP to prevent this from happening again.”

Pocono Medical Center is the sole provider of hospital services for Monroe County. The next hospital is 35 miles away. Currently 215 physicians are on the medical staff covering more than 30 specialties. The Mattioli Emergency Center at the hospital is one of the busiest in Pennsylvania, recording nearly 70,000 visits annually.

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