Anne Savarese, M.D.
Dr. Anne Savarese is the division head of Pediatric Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Her team consists of four pediatric anesthesiologists who provide anesthetic care to approximately 3,300 infants, children, and adolescents each year in UMMC operating rooms.
Dr. Savarese joined the Department of Anesthesiology in 1990, and began taking steps towards implementing green practices about three years ago. In 2009, she and her team began to make a more formal commitment to such practices. Read her story below.
Why is "going green" important to you?
As an avid equestrian, board sailor, and skier, I enjoy the outdoors. I am also raising two daughters, and I think these experiences, plus the global awareness campaigns, have made going green important to me at home and in my workplace.
What motivated you to help UMMC "go green" in the Department of Pediatric Anesthesiology?
There is so much waste produced during even the simplest anesthetic and surgery, even for infants and small children! It just seemed important to me that we actually "walk the walk." As a training program, it is important that we educate future practitioners in anesthesiology. Developing green habits in them as they train will hopefully produce a multiplier effect in their future workplaces.
What initiatives have you led to help UMMC "go green" in the Department of Pediatric Anesthesiology?
We have tried to reduce the use of disposables, especially plastic endotracheal tubes. My generation of anesthesiologists was taught to open three separate packages of incrementally sized endotracheal tubes for every pediatric case, even when intubation was not necessarily planned. This was to expedite airway management during emergencies, and was a well-intentioned practice focused on readiness and patient safety.
However, when these ETTs are not used, they are discarded at the end of the case. This created a lot of waste; thousands of endotracheal tubes were thrown away every year. Instead, we have inititated a practice of having the appropriate packages ready, on top of our anesthesia table, just not opened, allowing immediate access should intubation be necessary, but allowing un-opened (sterile) tubes to go back into stock for future use.
We are also advocates of "low-flow" anesthesia, which decreases the production of waste anesthetic gases and the pollution they cause. We hope to look for other green opportunities, but these are our primary efforts so far.
What are some of the benefits you believe your department is experiencing as a result of these initiatives?
We are saving some money on disposables, anesthetic agents, and underscoring the importance of all of the other "going green" initiatives.
Do you believe your pediatric patients can especially benefit from your initiatives?
Since these children are our future, certainly decreasing environmental waste will benefit them, even though they may be too little to realize it now!
From the changes you have seen in your department, how successful do you think your efforts to "go green" have been?
All of our anesthesiology residents who rotate on pediatrics are oriented to our "going green" initiatives, as are the circulating nurses in our operating rooms. Everyone feels good when we decrease how much is thrown away per case, especially plastic, since it literally takes forever to naturally degrade in the environment.
Have your co-workers been supportive of your efforts?
I think my co-workers have really supported these initiatives, and we are all looking for other ways to waste less.