North Carolina nurse uses leftover medical material to help the homeless


Nurse Lisa Clark and her colleagues found a purpose for cloth wrapping which is used to keep medical instruments sterile before use.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — What was once trash is now a treasure turned into something to help others in need.

One North Carolina nurse launched an effort to help the homeless all while keeping hundreds of pounds of medical waste out of the landfill, WLOS reports.

At facilities like Mission Surgery Center, a wealth of vital medical material is destined for the dump. Earlier this year, nurse Lisa Clark and her colleagues found a purpose for this ubiquitous resource.

Every day, cloth wrapping is used to keep medical instruments sterile before use. At the end of the day, that material was simply tossed in the trash and headed for the dump. That is, until nurse Lisa discovered others in the industry were using the material to help the homeless.

“I saw that there was a hospital system in Orlando that was making sleeping bags,” Lisa said.

Now, all that material, from all nine operating rooms, is bagged up and taken home by Lisa to be repurposed.

Lisa takes that durable, waterproof medical material and puts her seamstress skills to work. So far, she’s made 84 sleeping bags and distributed them to local organizations, including ABCCM, BeLoved Asheville, Homeward Bound and Aura Home for Women Veterans.

“People are using these as sleeping bags, and what they’re doing is they are putting their own sleeping bag inside of it or their own clothes inside of it to keep everything clean and dry,” Lisa said.

The material is also being used to make pillows with the help of a neighbor, a volunteer at the hospital and another person in Morganton, all pitching in to make it happen.

In addition to helping those in need, Lisa’s helped keep about 300-pounds of material out of the landfill.

“It’s just a win-win,” she said. “It makes me feel good that we’re helping others. We’re taking stuff out of the landfill. We’re not wasting resources that we could use for people who don’t have anything.”

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