Local hospital workers turn surgical trash into treasures for those in need

Lynne Adkins
November 26, 2018 - 4:59 pm
Laura Faust creates blankets and mats for the homeless out of upcycled material used for wrapping surgical instruments. Pictured: Faust's dog.

Courtesy of Laura Faust


CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Local hospital workers have found a way to turn surgical trash into a big help for the homeless. 

A lot of trash is generated in an operating room, according to Laura Faust, a nurse anesthetist at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden. 

She said one item in particular — a blue sheet of plastic material used for wrapping up surgical instruments — is used in all surgeries.

"We take those tarps out and put them in the operating room and take the sterile equipment out. Those tarps are just tossed and disposed of," she explained. "The tarps are very thick, they're water resistant, they're impermeable to heat, and just a really tough material."

Several hospital workers are sewing the mats together to make blankets, sleeping bags and mats for the homeless. They provide a barrier for them to sleep on.

"I also made sleeping bags out of them," she continued. "(It) sort of wraps up like a yoga mat and they can just sling it over their shoulders and take it with them. They're transient and they can take it with them and don't have to carry it in their arms."

It took Faust about 30 minutes to transform the sheets, and so far she's made about 130 items that provide a little extra comfort and warmth to those in need.