Rapid City hospital improperly disposes of waste amid fines

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A Rapid City hospital has continued to dump medical waste at the city landfill despite repeated warnings and fines over the past year, according to city officials.

The Rapid City Regional Hospital was first cited for disposing medical waste at the landfill more than a year ago, the Rapid City Journal reported . Rapid City Landfill workers have spotted blood-soaked gauze, bloody catheter lines, urine collection containers and fatty tissue.

The hospital was cited for six violations last year involving the improper disposal of medical waste, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.

“We know that Regional’s making efforts to correct this,” said Dale Tech, Rapid City’s public works director. “However, what we’ve seen in their weekly trips out to us, it really hasn’t changed.”

Regional Hospital implemented changes last year to re-engineer how medical waste and common garbage bags reach the hospital’s receptacle. The hospital installed cameras in the loading dock area and mandated more infection control training for employees.

The hospital sorts waste for biohazard materials in red bags from general waste in clear bags. A contractor called Stericycle takes the red bags to process and dispose of the infectious materials.

But city landfill supervisors said they still find infectious medical waste in every load generated by the hospital.

Hospital leaders are in communication with city officials about the waste dumping, said Nicole Kerkenbush, the hospital’s chief performance officer.

“The concern they have is ours as well,” she said.

South Dakota’s waste management officials said they contacted landfill operators across the state and found improper waste dumping isn’t happening at the same level in other places.

“One thing that the city could do is stop accepting waste from them (Regional),” Tech said. “We haven’t had those discussions yet.”