Mercy Hospital Service Spotlight: Sterile Processing Department

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August 5, 2011

Ruth Tyler assembles surgical instruments.

Mercy Hospital’s Sterile Processing Department (SPD) is the “heart of the hospital,” according to Michele Brown, manager of Catholic Health’s Central Sterile Processing.

“We clean all the medical equipment and instruments for the hospital and offsite facilities, prepare surgical packs and carts for the operating rooms, prepare all the code carts, labor and delivery carts, and are responsible for anything that needs to be cleaned with high-level disinfectant and sterilized for the care of our patients,” said Brown.

Handling over 15,000 items per month, the staff utilizes three forms of sterilization – gas, steam and peracetic acid.

“Gas sterilization is a 15-hour process and steam takes about 2 hours,” explained Brown. “If we need quick turnover for heat sensitive items, we use the peracetic acid.”

With 25 associates, the department operates around-the- clock on weekdays and two shifts on weekends.

As SPD staff assemble supplies, they test the instruments and equipment to assure proper working order for the physicians’ use and patient safety.