|Practice Type||Zip Code||Projected Annual Savings|
|Urgent Care||$3, 692|
|Family Practice||87105||$4, 052|
|Surgery Center||87111||$2, 730|
|Medical Group||88240||$2, 460|
|Long Term Care Facility||88340||$33, 165|
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The flag of New Mexico, a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions, on a field of yellow, exemplifies the state’s Native American Pueblo and Spanish roots, the symbol being a sacred symbol of the Zia Indians, and the flag colors drawn from flags brought by Spanish conquistadors. Both of these heritages are strong in the culture of New Mexico to this day. Almost half of the state’s residents identify as having Hispanic ancestry, and a tenth of the population identify as Native Americans. The state has an official bilingual song, New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico, and in recent years adopted a Navajo textbook for use in public schools.Housing both arid deserts and scenic mountains, the Land of Enchantment offers many strange and beautiful geologic formations, including the spectacular Carlsbad Caverns. If you don’t mind heading 600 feet underground, and cavern bats, you will be rewarded by a visit. This National Park and World Heritage site combines unusual features to form its wonders. 80 caves are composed mainly of Permian limestone, and lie atop a field of natural gas and oil. The resultant cave formations of limestone and gypsum range from delicate to massive, a wonderland of columns and boulders and dripping stone, brown and black and gray and yellow and blue and purple, atmospheric stone wilds of shadows and light.Drive. This is how you get around in many parts of New Mexico, and certainly in the scenic southeast region where Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands Monument are located. Thanks to FDR’s administrative focus on public works projects and WPA funds during the Great Depression, large areas of White Sands were preserved and improved, allowing over 600, 000 people to tour the alabaster gypsum sand dunes today. Residents both animal and human have evolved to stand the intense desert heat and torrential seasonal thunderstorms. The dunes move rapidly during late winter and early spring, as gale force winds blow straight across the high desert. Here, evolution for survival has produced many nocturnal mammals and unusual plants. Some plants survive the ever shifting dunes by stem elongation, actually growing upward quickly during wind storms to keep their delicate leaves above the surface. Adaptation is key.The New Mexico Environment Department Hazardous Waste Bureau’s (HWB) mission is to provide regulatory oversight and technical guidance to New Mexico hazardous waste generators and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities as required by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act [HWA; Chapter 74, Article 4 NMSA 1978] and regulations promulgated under the Act. New Mexicans will then be assured that hazardous waste is managed, and contaminated sites are cleaned up, in a manner that is safe and protective of human health and the environment. HWB also ensures abandoned hazardous substances are handled on an emergency basis, and lessens the resulting hazards that may present endangerment to humans.
The HWB’s classification of medical waste is that infectious waste is considered a “special waste, ” that has unique handling, transportation, or disposal requirements to assure protection of the environment and the public health, welfare and safety. Infectious waste means a limited class of substances that carry a probable risk of transmitting disease to humans. Types of waste are:
- Microbiological laboratory wastes
- Pathological wastes
- Contaminated disposable equipment, instruments and utensils
- Human blood and blood products
- Used sharps
- Contaminated animal carcasses, body parts and bedding, especially those intentionally exposed to pathogens in research.
Storage requirements for medical waste are that no person who stores special waste shall store the waste for longer than 90 days from the date the waste is placed in storage awaiting transportation, processing or final disposal unless otherwise approved by the department, except no person other than the generator shall store infectious waste for over seven days without refrigeration or at below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
With these definitions and requirements in mind, how has your facility adapted to medical waste disposal regulations as you have grown and changed? Are you aware of all codes and requirements currently on the books for medical waste treatment, storage and disposal? Under OHSA regulations, New Mexico is one of 21 states operating an approved occupational health and safety program, which is operated by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau. New Mexico has adopted Federal OHSA regulations and has specific State regulations as well. These definitions, and management, operational, treatment, transportation, storage, containment and disposal requirements, can be challenging to keep up with.
For instance, here are some facts about medical waste storage containers in New Mexico. All red or orange bags or rigid containers used for containment purposes need to be clearly labeled as holding infectious waste, even if other types of waste are placed in the same containers. Rigid infectious waste containers can be reused if they are thoroughly washed and decontaminated after each use, and have also been protected by disposable and undamaged liners or bags. Medical waste storage must be protected from the elements, properly ventilated to the outdoors, marked with easily readable warning signs, and only accessible to authorized staff. This summary only highlights these specific regulations. Suffice to say, medical waste cannot be disposed of with the regular trash from your facility. After its treatment and storage, a licensed medical waste disposal company must collect this refuse and make it safe.