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North Country Hospital Earns National Recognition for Safety in Surgery

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NEWPORT — Over the last ten months, Hillary Bathalon, LPN, has made it her mission to implement a smoke-free environment in North Country Hospital’s operating rooms.

She researched a program through the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and educated all OR staff, surgeons, and anesthesiologists to complete the requirements for the Go Clear Award.

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The National Association of Perioperative Nurses awarded the Gold Level status of the Go Clear Award as a result of our commitment to implementing practices that eliminate smoke caused by the use of lasers and electrosurgery devices during surgery.

Surgical smoke is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90 percent of all surgeries.

Inhalation and absorption of toxic surgical smoke pose surgical health risks to patients and surgical staff.

Studies compare the inhalation of smoke from vaporized human tissue to the smoke created by cigarettes, and the average daily impact of surgical smoke on the surgical team is equivalent to inhaling 27-30 unfiltered cigarettes.

According to AORN, it is estimated only 50 percent of healthcare workers across the U.S. understand the hazards of OR smoke exposure.

“I am so thankful to Hillary for her hard work and determination to make the operating room safer for our patients and for our staff,” Director of Surgical Services, Debra Beauchesne, said. “Additionally, North Country is the first hospital in the State of Vermont to achieve a smoke-free environment award.”

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