Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cookies of Commiseration: The Health Inspector Edition

Yesterday, I wrote this Facebook post:

"Some days are good, but others bring stress. It's good to have a colleague and friend who will bring you 2 huge cookies when you need to remember that you're an English major, not a Biology major."

I remembered to get a picture of the cookie before I ate it all.

If you look closely, you can see that the cookie is sitting in the middle of notes that I took when the health inspector was here telling me all the ways that we were not up to par.  As she looked over our Biohazard notebook, telling us all the ways our plan could be better, I felt a mixture of shame and enraged annoyance.  "You're using the old template," she said.

Doing my best to keep my voice even, I asked, "Has it really changed that much?"

She looked at my plan again and started to show me where the same elements were.  I said, "So, do you want me to rewrite it into the new template?"

She said, "That's not really necessary."

Then we went to look at our boxes where we keep the biohazardous waste.  Those of you who don't know about biomedical hazard storage are probably now visualizing items that are infectious or radioactive.  Happily, we don't do much of that kind of storage.  In one lab, it's primarily sterilizing wipes, gloves, and drapes.  In another lab, it's syringes with traces of blood and sterilizing wipes.  Our Vet Tech labs have a variety of items, none of them particularly dangerous, some of them smelly.

I had been worried that she might find we were storing items improperly.  Instead, she focused on the fact that the boxes had the name of our previous biohazardous waste transporter--I had never thought that might be a problem.  We have changed transporters in June, and the old one was supposed to come and get the boxes at the termination of the contract, which did not happen.

So, we failed the health inspection, which was not my fault, but which still made me feel bad for part of the day.  I went back to the materials that the health department sent me in advance of the inspection, and there was no mention of the problem of the names on the boxes.  

As a Humanities person, I've spent a lifetime in higher ed scavenging office supplies and looking for ways to reuse and recycle when there is no funding--and there so often is no funding.  In past years, an Allied Health program chair would have been in charge of all of this, but this year is not those years.  I spent half an hour reminding myself of the realities of our situation as I tried to move on.

The happy news is that the fix is fairly easy, and I don't need to schedule a return visit--I take pictures of the new boxes and the manifest that will show disposal of the old boxes by a licensed company, and then we get cleared.

As I spent time with the health inspector, I thought about last year's lengthy encounters with the fire inspector, about all the types of inspections that my grad school training did not prepare me for.  I am grateful for colleagues with whom I can commiserate and the cookies that they bring me.

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