Life Stories: Anne Jackson and MediDivert
In May 2019, Anne Jackson set up MediDivert with the aim to procure unwanted unused medical goods such as drapes, syringes, plastic forceps’ theatre packs and single use instruments from hospitals and re deploy to areas of need, such as vets who care for our native animals.
At a time in Australia, and around the world, where focus is being put on what we as individuals can do to increase our positive impact on the planet, reducing use of plastic is top of almost everybody’s list.
We were surprised to hear that one of the largest contributors to plastic waste was hospitals, so when we found out what Anne, one of our lovely clients, was doing to reduce this impact we just had to speak with her and find out more.
Treysta (T): When did you first have the idea for MediDivert?
Anne Jackson (AJ): I had been thinking about it for some time, then in Feb 2019 I attended a Sustainability and Environment nursing conference entitled ‘Greening Our Hospitals’. I discussed with members my concept for collecting waste (similar to the OzHarvest style but no food).
Over the years I had seen clean hospital waste increasing and going into landfill, goods that could easily be re-purposed and recycled. Because of my interest in caring for injured wildlife, I and another nurse attending saw a possibility of using these waste goods in animal care.
T: Did you have any reservations when first starting out?
AJ: Not really, as all I was seeking to do with MediDivert was to provide a ‘channel’ whereby these goods could be given to carers and vets that provide free veterinary care to injured wildlife and to say ‘thank you’.
T: Did you always plan to continue working in some capacity when you retired? And to stay so close to your career?
AJ: Volunteering rather than working, and in areas where my nursing knowledge/experience could be best used.
T: What has the response been from hospitals and vets?
AJ: Fantastic! Hospitals are on board as they save on landfill costs, nursing staff love the concept of medical goods that would otherwise be tipped having a useful purpose, and improving the environment.
The animals benefit from more prompt care due to the availability of equipment. Vets are obviously delighted to have free supplies, and wildlife organisations and carers are very happy to offer assistance and to ‘bond’ with vets.
T: How many hospitals and vets do you currently work with?
AJ: Currently five hospitals and discussions with a sixth.
Sydney Wildlife Rescue members nominated 37 vets & organisations in Sydney basin that look after native wildlife very well and they are currently receiving supplies, all delivered by members.
T: Do you have a plan for growing the business going forward or are you happy to see where it leads to organically?
AJ: It’s not a business as such, as no money passes hands: we merely ‘divert’ unused medical goods to vets and wild life carers. The growth has largely come from ‘word of mouth’ – by nurses talking to other nursing friends in other hospitals.
Current numbers of hospitals are as much as I can cope with at present, but wildlife carers are keen to get involved: one constraint is that nursing or vet knowledge and experience is desirable at the time of the collection of the goods, in order to ensure that we only pick up goods that will be useful to vets and carers.
T: Are there any times of the year that you see more of a demand for these goods, with the recent bushfires for example?
AJ: Medidivert only started in March this year, so a bit hard to say. I’m certainly talking to a number of wildlife clinics/refuges on the North Coast of NSW about getting goods to them as one of the sad consequences of the current bushfire emergency. Logistics are always an issue!
Some vets in bush fire areas in Sydney have received a MediDivert Burns Box to help bolster their goods at a crucial time.
Wildlife carers are normally very busy in the Spring when young animals and birds are around, so that could be a peak time for MediDivert.
T: Anything else you like to tell us about MediDivert?
AJ: I am a little scared that it may get too big and I and my willing helpers will not be able to cope with the volume of goods. We are such a throwaway society. I just wish that all Health Authorities take a look at their waste and find new ways to avoid so much going into landfill.
To avoid any future insurance claims, MediDivert (registered Business Name only) has asked all participating vets to sign an agreement stating that we do not make any assertions or claims about the suitability of any of the goods, therefore in accepting them from MediDivert they are doing so at their own risk.
For vets to become part of MediDivert they need to be nominated by a wildlife carer group as a vet that gives consistent quality care to our native wildlife.
As always, we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or are interested in getting involved with MediDivert in other ways.