It is standard for American hospitals to throw away surgical supplies prepared for operating room procedures -- even if they remain intact -- because they are no longer covered under the manufacturer's single-use-only warranty. An anesthesiologist at the School of Medicine who has created a system for recovering these discarded surgical supplies and machinery from U.S. hospitals and donating the material to developing countries has been named a winner of the 1996 International Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
Dr. William H. Rosenblatt, assistant professor of anesthesiology, is one of five international laureates whom Rolex has recognized for exceptional projects demonstrating innovation and originality. The winners were selected from more than 2,500 applications in 116 countries, and each received $50,000 cash awards and solid gold Rolex chronometers.
Rolex created the awards program in 1976 to encourage a spirit of enterprise in individuals worldwide by providing them with the financial support and recognition that they need to bring their original ideas to fruition.
Dr. Rosenblatt was honored for his efforts in readdressing the balance of medical supplies between developed and developing countries in his project, called Remedy -- Recovered Medical Equipment for the Developing World. The program -- developed in 1991 at Yale and now in place in more than 60 hospitals throughout the United States, including Yale-New Haven Hospital -- teaches hospitals in affluent countries a thoroughly tested protocol to recover discarded but unused operating room supplies and distributes the materials through well-known charities to the needy in developing countries. Physicians, nurses and technicians thereby contribute to global health care during their daily routine, notes Dr. Rosenblatt.
With the funds from Rolex, Dr. Rosenblatt says, Remedy plans to encourage more hospitals to participate in this program. In the past, hospitals had approached Remedy about information on how to become involved; now Remedy volunteers will be able actively to recruit hospitals to join this global effort.
Remedy also includes a research component, whereby U.S. hospitals are able to learn cost-effective measures to save money and reduce waste. In addition, Remedy is looking at effective methods to donate materials overseas and developing communication systems, including use of the Internet, about the materials that are available in the United States and that are needed in developing countries.