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Breathing New Life into Lifesaving Machines

Research-Main-Image_RevCT-Technology“Reduce, reuse, recycle”. The adage is old, but it sticks around because it holds true: it is the key to cutting waste and helping make the world a greener place.

But what about “refurbish, reuse, recycle”? That’s what engineers from GE Healthcare are doing with retired medical equipment to meet the growing demand for pre-owned systems and parts, while also helping to save the environment.

No medical equipment lasts forever. Often times, machines are retired to make way for newer, more advanced models. But the old machines needn’t be scrapped: they have life in them yet.

“There’s a lot to be said for refurbishing and recycling systems and parts,” said Mark Emery, General Manager with GE Healthcare’s Equipment Lifecycle Solutions (ELS). “By doing this, we’re keeping materials out of landfills and, in some cases, extending quality healthcare technology to places that might not otherwise have access due to budget constraints.”

When a hospital decides to part ways with a piece of imaging equipment, GE Healthcare may offer to buy it back. If they do, their field service engineers de-install the equipment and ship it to GE Healthcare’s Repair Operations Center in Milwaukee where it will be harvested for parts, or to a facility in Waukesha, Buc, Beijing, or Bangalore where the teams then work to refurbish the machines for reuse. Much of what can’t be used is recycled. Not only does this initiative, called GoldSeal, give vital equipment a new lease of life, it also extends the amount of time the equipment is available for patients to use and benefit from, with the obvious added benefit of cutting costs.

An average retired CT can produce as many as 53 parts, and it takes the team at the Repair Operations Center about 20 hours to extract them all. About 11 million pounds (that’s around 1,100 elephants) of retired medical equipment and parts are recycled or made reusable each year at the repair center in Milwaukee alone.

“Having a line of pre-owned products helps customers and the environment alike,” said Eric Evenson, U.S. Commercial Manager, ELS. “When we refurbish, we are actually upgrading the machine’s features and performance. Without our refurbishment processes, our products would decrease in value much quicker and would end up getting disposed of much faster.”