Extracorporeal Photopheresis Kit Packaging
A Unique, Single Academic Medical Center Use of Recyclables
Danica Uzelac, BSN, RN, CCRC and Mary Heitschmidt, PhD, APN, CCRN
Photopheresis is a procedure used to treat the skin problems from cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. It is also used off-label for the treatment of graft versus host disease in bone marrow transplant (BMT) patients.
During photopheresis, blood is taken from a vein and separated into its different components: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. White blood cells are treated with a medication and exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, and then put back into the vein. From 1995 to 2017, photopheresis was conducted by the Department of Dermatology at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC). Photopheresis is currently under the direction of the bone marrow team.
Thousands of photopheresis kits are delivered to health care facilities around the world. Each shipment contains multiple layers of packaging. Danica (Dani) Uzelac, RUMC Photopheresis Nurse Manager, knew there should be an opportunity to recycle some, if not all of the packaging. The amount of waste created at a single institution from these shipments is excessive.
For example in 2016, 386 photopheresis treatments were completed at RUMC. Each treatment kit is packaged with one cardboard divider. The total area required for these cardboard dividers if laid down side by side is 577 square feet.
Dani Uzelac searched for an innovative usage of these materials: reusing or recycling the packaging. She connected with community schools and donated all discarded reusable kit cardboard materials to local schools for arts and crafts projects. Other photopheresis nurses at RUMC helped by saving and safely storing all of the cardboard, including Kelly Modugno, BSN, RN, Felicia Pautsch, BSN, RN, OCN, Deborah Nalian, BSN, RN, CRNI, VA-BC, CMSRN, and Kylie Charney, BSN, RN. Dani Uzelac consulted Mary Heitschmidt, PhD, APN, CCRN to review her unique project and dissemination plan.
Dr. Heitschmidt provided guidance on her abstract submission and poster development for an upcoming national meeting where she won first place for her work at the American Society for Apheresis (ASFA) annual meeting in Chicago in April 2018. Over 600 multidisciplinary health care professionals participated in this national scientific and educational meeting. Dani Uzelac’s poster was selected as the first place winner of the People’s Choice Award.
The award validated the importance and impact of this novel recycling project not only to area community schools and RUMC, but to colleagues across the nation by providing them with a unique way to reuse photopheresis kits at their own health care institutions.