Girl Planting seeds

Summer Internship at the Center

sustainable_light_shutterstock_535718161Article by Aarti S. Gupta & Abigail Gulchin

During our summer internship at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®, we have been working on understanding the true meaning of environmental health, and aiming to make Hackensack University Medical Center a “healthier,” more sustainable place. This research center is focused on a public health approach to educating hospital team members, the community and beyond on various environmental issues, and also performs research studies on these topics. We started by helping to update the Center website, which discusses environmental health issues ranging from lead poisoning to pediatric cancer. Our goal was to  ensure that all statistics were up to date. These statistics will help educate anyone looking at the site. This provided us with the information to better understand what this Center is about, and the impact that we would be making this summer.

Through the duration of this internship, we were given the opportunity to work on an exciting project that aids in creating a safer hospital environment with the reduction of two chemicals – DEHP and PVC – in medical devices. We started with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to help protect our most vulnerable patients. With this project, we worked towards identifying the chemicals of concern, PVC and DEHP, within some of the medical devices used in the NICU, and worked with the Purchasing Department to identify substitute products where available. 

Additionally, we have been working with the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall by analyzing survey statistical data from current medical students attending a lecture and group activity that discusses the topics of environmental health.The Center had been asked to examine the effectiveness of these learning activities through creating a survey and analyzing the responses. In addition, we created bar graphs from the survey responses to provide a visual representation of the data.

From the projects that we have discussed, we feel that we have put forth our best efforts to ensure that the community of Hackensack University Medical Center is an overall healthier environment for both the patients and staff. With that being said, we feel extremely humbled and privileged to have had the opportunity to intern for Hackensack Meridian Health and The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.

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