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Healthy partnership

ST John of God Healthcare Murdoch is hoping to lower its annual $12,000 kitchen waste disposal bill by processing its food waste in an industrial-sized prototype worm farm supplied by Murdoch University.

The hospital has entered into an alliance with the university to help it deal with the 170 tonnes of food waste created each year from the 300,000 meals the hospital serves a year.

Not only will the worm unit divert the waste from landfill, it will also produce castings for use in the hospital’s gardens.

Murdoch University Environmental Technology Centre is supervising the 12-month trial project, under a memorandum of understanding with the hospital.

SJOG Murdoch CEO Peter Mott said the partnership was significant, bringing together the two largest south-of-the-river employers.

However, the worm project could forge other associations.

Environmental Technology Centre research manager Martin Anda said the university was seeking to optimise and commercialise the worm farm technology for WA conditions.

An intellectual property agreement between Murdoch University and industry partner Soil Life could eventuate from the project and he said it was not infeasible for SJOG Murdoch to be involved.

“This vermiculture project brings together research, commercial waste management and industrial development,” Dr Anda said.

SJOG Murdoch is already in alliance with three other WA universities – Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia – through medical training programs.

Mr Mott is also on the advisory committee for the University of Notre Dame Australia and the hospital plans to participate in the clinical training component for the university’s proposed medical school.

The hospital also has strong community alliances, supporting the St Patrick’s Care Centre, the Port Community School, and the Wilson Lighthouse long-term youth accommodation facility. It also provides meals and work experience for the Lighthouse residents.

Just nine years old, SJOG Murdoch is embarking on a major expansion program due to the high occupancy levels and regional population growth it is facing.

Recent expansions including day surgery, emergency short stay, intensive and coronary care, and paediatric facilities, will be followed by a $25 million program.

Tenders for that program will be released in the fourth quarter.

The expansion, to commence early next year, will double the emergency department bed capacity, increase the number of hospital beds to 340, offer specialist maternity accommodation, provide an additional two operating theatres and add 150 car parking bays.

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