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Regional Hospital Bringing In Third Party Oversite For Medical Waste Violations


Regional Hospital officials say they’re implementing new oversight policies to prevent medical waste from getting into the Rapid City landfill.

The statement comes after a Rapid City Journal report on medical waste violations by the hospital.

The department head of the Rapid City Public Works Department says crews have found bags of medical waste during random load inspections. Medical waste, they say, that could be infectious.

That’s a violation of state law and local ordinance, which officials say could lead to worker exposure or, in extreme cases, groundwater contamination.

Officials trace the infections medical waste back to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Public Works Director Dale Tech says it’s a violation of their permit with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“Every now and again we receive red bags of what appear to be infectious waste for medical waste that may or may not meet the requirements for disposal,” Tech says. “Sometimes we see that in non-red bags too. So, to characterize it as being a red bag issue would be incorrect.”

Last April, one reported violation included surgical gowns and gloves with blood on them placed into a red biohazard bag, along with a human bone joint, that ended up in a larger, non-medical waste garbage bag.

The City assesses an additional 50 percent surcharge to the hospital every time infectious waste is discovered.

Nicole Kerkenbush is the Chief Performance Officer with Regional Health. She says the hospital is ultimately responsible for following its own policies.

“That’s why we’re going to have various processes put in place, others that we’re going to put in place as we go through this review. Each point along that way, there’s a different process, a piece, that has to be done,” Kerkenbush says. “When it comes down to it, we at regional health have to make sure the waste management is done properly, according to our procedures, according to other regulatory agencies—OSHA, etc.—that we make sure we follow those policies and procedures.”

Kerkenbush says the hospital is bringing in a third party auditor to monitor their waste disposal practices to find a fix for the issue.